Paw Paw

A unique and delicious addition to any edible landscape is the pawpaw. Reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet, occasionally 40 feet, this deciduous tree is native to this country and was relished by native Americans and early settlers. The pawpaw is the largest edible fruit that is native to the United States. Paw paws are found growing from northern Florida to southern Ontario and as far west as eastern Nebraska. With 28 varieties available this hardy and delicious native fruit will thrive with little or no care and is highly resistant to insects and diseases. The unique flavor of the fruit resembles a blend of various tropical flavors, including banana, pineapple, and mango. The flavor and custard-like texture make paw paws a good substitute for bananas in almost any recipe. The common names, ‘poor man’s banana,’ ‘American custard apple,’ and ‘Kentucky banana’ reflect these qualities. It is excellent when eaten fresh, and delicious in puddings, cookies, pies, ice cream and breads. Pawpaw fruit is reported to be higher in proteins and carbohydrates than apples, peaches and grapes. They are high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. They are a good source of potassium and several essential amino acids, and they also contain significant amounts of riboflavin, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.

The tree will develop into a beautiful cone-shaped specimen. The tree tends to send up off-shoots from stolons every few feet, a tendency which diminishes if confined to one trunk. The tree's large, drooping, elliptical leaves give it a tropical appearance. The leaves measure up to 12 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. In the autumn they turn a golden yellow. It is generally found in the understory of wooded areas, especially in rich moist bottomlands and along streams. The tree will grow in well drained upland wooded areas, although in these locations the fruit may be less abundant and somewhat smaller.

Pawpaw’s beautiful, maroon colored flowers appear in the spring, and the clusters of fruit ripen in the fall. The pawpaw grows best in temperate humid growing zones, requiring warm to hot summers, mild to cold winters. It can be grown successfully in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 (-15o F/-26o C) through 8 (15o F/-9o C).

Getting a pawpaw established can be a bit tricky, The seedlings need to be planted with some protection from the full sun, and the mature tree needs full sun to produce abundantly. Shading for the first year, and sometimes the second, is normally required outside, and it is for this reason that paw paws are almost always found in nature as an understory tree. Choose a site that provides some protection from the wind and gives good drainage. This is essential to success. Pawpaws will not thrive in heavy soil or waterlogged soil. The soil should be slightly acid (pH 5.5-7). Prepare the soil prior to planting with lots of compost, paw paws develop a tap root and need deep fertile soil. Successful transplanting of a tree or root sucker is difficult because of the taproot. If possible, purchase container grown plant material as field-dug trees may not perform as well, due to damage to the delicate root system.

Pawpaw trees available from nurseries are generally either seedlings or grafted named cultivars. Seedling trees are typically one year old at time of purchase, and they are less expensive than grafted trees. Since seedlings are not identical to their parents, fruit quality cannot be guaranteed. Trees that have been grafted to named cultivars are usually 2 years old at time of purchase, and they are more expensive than seedling trees. Since they retain the clonal identity of the parent, fruit quality is assured, given adequate cultural conditions.

You will need to purchase at least two genetically different trees (i.e. two different cultivars, or at least two seedlings), to ensure that cross pollination can occur. A pawpaw seedling should begin blooming in six to eight years. Water newly planted trees immediately after planting, and as needed throughout the growing season. Pawpaw trees require adequate soil moisture, especially in the first two years after planting. A good idea to get your seedlings off to a good start is to plant in a sunny location but provide shade in the form of a barrel with the top and bottom cut off. Allow the seedling to grow in the barrel for the first two years and remove when the tree grows out the top. Stake the barrel to prevent it from tipping over in the wind.

After planting a thick surface mulch of leaves or straw mimics conditions found in pawpaw's native forest habitat. Pruning is not necessary except perhaps to remove the occasional wayward branch. The only other consideration may be with pollination.

If your trees fail to set fruit, hand pollination may be necessary. When the anthers are dusty with pollen, pick off a flower and gently rub it against several flowers of another plant. Each flower can produce a cluster of fruits; with hand pollination, only the strength of the branches limits how much fruit your tree can bear. Tiny clusters of fruit appear after pollination. The clusters, typically have two to six green skinned fruits, point outward in a manner similar to bananas. The fruit will mature from late September through mid October. The pawpaw's intense tropical flavor, sweetness, and aroma will fully develop if left on the tree until it is ready to drop. This is the time to pick pawpaws for favor quality; however the fully ripened fruit has a shelf life of only a few days and it is easily damaged.

Ripe pawpaw fruits are easily picked,yielding to a gentle tug. Shaking the tree will make them fall off. (If you try this, don’t stand under the fruit clusters, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Ripeness can also be gauged by squeezing gently, as you would judge a peach. The flesh should be soft, and the fruit should have a strong, pleasant aroma. The skin color of ripe fruit on the tree ranges from green to yellow, and dark flecks may appear, as on bananas. The skin of picked or fallen fruit may darken to brown or black. The fruit can be successfully stored in refrigeration for up to three weeks. The fruit ranges from a few ounces to as much as a pound; typically, the fruit will be five to ten ounces. Paw paws, generally, are three to five inches long with a caramel yellow pulp containing two rows of dark brown lima bean-like seeds that take up a large volume. The seeds are not difficult to remove. Fully ripe paw paws last only a few days at room temperature, but may be kept for a week in the refrigerator. If fruit is refrigerated before it is fully ripe, it can be kept for up to three weeks, and can then be allowed to finish ripening at room temperature. Ripe pawpaw flesh, with skin and seeds removed, can be pureed and frozen for later use. You can also freeze whole fruits.

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The first set of leaves that appear after a seed has germinated are called cotyledons or seed leaves. At this point, the seedling can exist on reserve food supplies stored in these leaves, but once the first 'true' leaves appear, the plant will require an application of fertilizer.

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Parsnips, like carrots, are bothered by the carrot rust fly. Inter-planting onions or garlic in the parsnip beds will also ward off the villainous flies.

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Lacewings

They are around 13 mm long (some species are longer) and usually green or brown. Another beneficial insect and a must in every garden. They have very large wings, gold colored eyes and are mostly active at night. They are attracted by light so patio lights around your garden can attract them. When handled they can give off a terrible odor. To attract them to your garden plant plenty of pollen producing plants.

They are found worldwide. Females lay their eggs on foliage. The eggs are elongated and white and are at the end of a stiff thread. They hatch in the early cool spring and crawl down the stalks of plants. This gives them a head start on those aphids before they can get a foothold in your garden. The larvae look like small alligators with bits of fluff on their sides. Adults live for approximately 5 weeks and then lay their eggs and die. There is usually at least 2 generations a year. Lacewings and their larvae are greedy aphid eaters.

They are dubbed "Aphid Lions' for this reason. They can consume anywhere from 20 to several hundred aphids a day! It is mostly the larvae that eat garden insects. They also eat other sap sucking type insects such as mites, mealy bugs, thrips, leaf hoppers, spider mites just to name a few.

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Herbs

Lesser Periwinkle - divide in spring or take stem cuttings in autumn and grow in fertile

moist soils with a little lime.


Wild Pansy - sow in spring or summer where plants are to grow; press seeds into soil

but leave uncovered. Surplus seedlings may be transplanted to any

position in semi-shade. Plants self-seed freely Cut back leggy plants to

induce bushy growth and further flowers. Also called heartsease, field

pansy, and johnny jump-ups.


Chaste Berry - sow seeds in spring, layer in summer, or take cuttings under plastic in

autumn. Grow in well-drained light soil, in full sun and against a warm

sheltered wall in temperate regions.


Brandie

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

 
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