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Nut Trees, pawpaws, and American persimmons

 
Philip Perlman
Posts: 14
Location: Ulster County, NYS
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Hello everyone,
I posted much of what I am about to post in "Paul Wheaton's hugelkultur article thread" and Miles Flansburg, the moderator, suggested I post here as we raise many nut and fruit trees.

We live on 66 acres in the Catskill small mountain range upstate NY where I grow many (300+) nut trees with a large number of pawpaws and American persimmons. Years ago because as an environmentalist I do not like burning brush, I decided to create heaps of brush, including dead unusable logs in our woods (20 acres) which would help young critters, rabbits, grouse, et al have a place to hang out. As they brush piles rot we replenish them in other areas. The extra firewood I give to one of my part time workers who heats with wood. We used to but the house I just built does not have a wood stove yet, though one exists in my office there.

We grow pecans and pecan hybrids and though they are around 30 feet tall they will probably not fruit in my life time but will do so in the future. We also have many black walnuts, unfortunately there is a blight which has travelled from California to Tennessee and Missouri (one of the largest black walnut producers in the US) and there is nothing to prevent its spreading further. It apparently does not affect butternut trees which are related but which are being destroyed by environmental diseases. We have hazelnuts (filberts), hicans (pecan-hickory), heart nuts, relatively hardy American chestnut hybrids, chinese chestnuts, hickory nuts (my favorite nut), etc. We are a large producer of pawpaws which we sell locally, we have about 70+ fruiting trees and about 40 fruiting American persimmons. This is not a successful business as it costs us more than we make from sales but I am retired and enjoy sharing. I may try some hugelkultur this summer as we have many large compost piles.

If anyone needs info on nut growing, pawpaws, or American persimmons I will try to respond coherently.

all my best,
 
Miles Flansburg
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Thanks Philip!

So it sounds like your brush piles are almost like hugels. How much time does it take them to compost down to soil? Do you see any risk in leaving the cuttings in the orchard, with the deseases that you mentioned?

How hardy are the nuts etc? I have land in Wyoming and would love to find some really hardy trees.

Have you heard of rocket mass heaters? Sounds like you could build some and be really efficient. Check out the threads we have on them !
 
Philip Perlman
Posts: 14
Location: Ulster County, NYS
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Thanks Philip!

So it sounds like your brush piles are almost like hugels. How much time does it take them to compost down to soil? Do you see any risk in leaving the cuttings in the orchard, with the deseases that you mentioned?

How hardy are the nuts etc? I have land in Wyoming and would love to find some really hardy trees.

Have you heard of rocket mass heaters? Sounds like you could build some and be really efficient. Check out the threads we have on them !


The piles are not in the orchard areas, they are in the woods which are mostly hardwood with pine and other evergreens which are on the woodland periphery. They're not like hugels as they are piles rather than long lengths. The compost piles we have are in the orchard areas and they are about 20-30 feet long and around 4 feet high. We compost material that breaks down fairly fast, grasses, food remnants, but no wood which is in the woodland piles. I will try to take a look next week and see how they are doing. And I will check out the thread you cited, thanks Miles.

They are all doing very well. I always cut away the weaker of the uprights when we get a 'V' shaped tree growing as they tend to split as they get older. You've probably noticed this with the indigenous trees growing as well. Hazelnuts can become diseased but one of the members of the NY Nutgrowers and the Northern Nutgrowers Association, Tom Molnar, is a professor at Rutgers.edu and they are developing disease resistant varieties of which I have around 15. The Northern Nutgrowers group is an excellent source for info and membership is not that costly, $40 individual, $50 US family annually. They have annual meetings but are usually too far for me to travel as I don't like to take a lot of time off from here. A friend of mine from NY Nutgrowers, Jerry Henkin, is their librarian. They put out a very nice quarterly magazine.

Nut trees are quite hardy similar to apples which are almost impossible to kill we have around 12 apple trees, maybe more, that I inherited when I bought these two adjacent pieces of of property. One is an old apple around 4-5 foot diameter at ground level. It's dying but still bears fruit.

I would recommend Filberts (hazelnuts) for a quick growing, fast yielding nuttree. Perhaps hickories are already growing on your land, I am not familiar with your area, but hickory nuts are quite delicious. If you want to get further into nuts I think you should join the group I cited above and many of the members, especially those living near where you are located will know of local sources for excellent trees.

all my best,
 
Dan Boone
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I have one young black walnut growing on the property here so I was interested in the mention of a blight on them. Google turned up this link for anyone else who may be curious:

http://greatlakesecho.org/2011/11/30/disease-that-attacks-black-walnut-trees-sweeps-across-us/


I am just starting to build brush piles from clearing out the undergrowth that has grown up through the branches of about a dozen ancient wild pecan trees on this property. We also have dozens of American Persimmon trees, although just a few are clear enough (yet) for the fruit to be readily harvestable. If I don't get a tractor, a brush hog, and a much bigger chainsaw, it will be my life's work rehabilitating these trees with hand tools.

As far as I know, though (there's still some chunks of ravine I haven't checked) we don't have any paw paws. I'll remedy that, one of these years.
 
Philip Perlman
Posts: 14
Location: Ulster County, NYS
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Dan Boone wrote:I have one young black walnut growing on the property here so I was interested in the mention of a blight on them. Google turned up this link for anyone else who may be curious:

http://greatlakesecho.org/2011/11/30/disease-that-attacks-black-walnut-trees-sweeps-across-us/


I am just starting to build brush piles from clearing out the undergrowth that has grown up through the branches of about a dozen ancient wild pecan trees on this property. We also have dozens of American Persimmon trees, although just a few are clear enough (yet) for the fruit to be readily harvestable. If I don't get a tractor, a brush hog, and a much bigger chainsaw, it will be my life's work rehabilitating these trees with hand tools.

As far as I know, though (there's still some chunks of ravine I haven't checked) we don't have any paw paws. I'll remedy that, one of these years.


The article you cited is a good summary of the 1000 canker disease. It mentioned that the disease has been found in Pennsylvania which is not that far from where we are. Hopefully the colder temperatures here might stall things for a while. One can inject and spray but it is an enormous task and with the many large black walnuts I have it would be costly. Also I tend to avoid all pesticides as I believe they are responsible for many other health problems we humans are experiencing. So we grow much of our own food, don't use poisons, try to avoid a lot of plastic etc.

Regarding pawpaws, they are best done by seeding rather than be transplanting trees. The trees develop a very long tap root, a lot like hickories do but since they are understory trees the tap root will not be nearly as large but it can be 3 feet long by the time the tree is 3 years old, which is about 2 years before they begin to fruit. Depending on whether you grow them in rows basically the way I advise beginners to grow them is in groups of 3 as they need to cross pollinate. I would plant 3 groups of 2-3 seeds in an equilateral triangular pattern where each side of the triangle is about 12 feet in length. Pawpaws also spread through underground rhizomes and one has to be careful otherwise one can end up with an enormous quantity of upstarts that have to be mowed or cut down. The seeds should be planted in the fall as they will start to grow during the winter. Up here which is much further north we see the beginnings of young trees around the following July or August. In about 5 years from seed planting trees begin to fruit. I often use tree tubes for growing but one must shade the young trees from the sun. We grow them in open fields but we use tree guards, white plastic cones with metal legs when we seed them and when they start to get around 8-10" high we cage them and use black screening to protect the young trees from the sun. The black screening for us faces east as we get lots of sun in our fields. Once the trees are 5-8 feet tall they need little protection. They are pretty much insect and deer proof because they put out a substance in the twigs, which presumably is an anti-carcinogen, which repels insects and deer do not seem interested as well.
 
Dan Boone
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Awesome! I've seen some advice before on planting pawpaws, but that's the most/best in one place that I've seen. If I can get some good seed, I'm going to try this.

As for shade, I think I've got some places to plant where the young trees will be shaded by trash trees (ash and osage orange) that I can just cut down when the pawpaws are ready for full sun.

Thanks for the pointers.
 
Akiva Silver
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why do you think the pecans are taking so long to bear? are they grafted or seedlings? How long do they usually take?, and do you know of any good sources for seed nuts of hardy pecans?
Thank you!
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Philip Perlman wrote:

If anyone needs info on nut growing, pawpaws, or American persimmons I will try to respond coherently.



Hi Philip:

Do you sell and ship pawpaw seeds? Thanks.
 
Philip Perlman
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Location: Ulster County, NYS
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Dan Boone wrote:Awesome! I've seen some advice before on planting pawpaws, but that's the most/best in one place that I've seen. If I can get some good seed, I'm going to try this.

As for shade, I think I've got some places to plant where the young trees will be shaded by trash trees (ash and osage orange) that I can just cut down when the pawpaws are ready for full sun.

Thanks for the pointers.


Dan email me: culann@earthlink.net
 
Philip Perlman
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Location: Ulster County, NYS
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Ivan Weiss wrote:
Philip Perlman wrote:

If anyone needs info on nut growing, pawpaws, or American persimmons I will try to respond coherently.



Hi Philip:

Do you sell and ship pawpaw seeds? Thanks.


Email me Ivan culann@earthlink.net
 
Ivan Weiss
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Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Philip Perlman wrote:
Email me Ivan culann@earthlink.net


My email is in your spam filter. thanks.
 
Jay Hayes
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Location: Missouri
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Philip,

I am interested in Hicans. I only recently learned of their existence and have yet to find a good seed source. Do you have any suggestions? Could you share any advice on starting to growing them?

I recently ordered several varieties of American persimmons from Hidden Springs nursery with plans to graft onto many non-producing persimmons on my farm. I have only found a bit of info on grafting persimmons. Do you have any experience?

Thanks

J
 
Philip Perlman
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Location: Ulster County, NYS
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Jay Hayes wrote:Philip,

I am interested in Hicans. I only recently learned of their existence and have yet to find a good seed source. Do you have any suggestions? Could you share any advice on starting to growing them?

I recently ordered several varieties of American persimmons from Hidden Springs nursery with plans to graft onto many non-producing persimmons on my farm. I have only found a bit of info on grafting persimmons. Do you have any experience?

Thanks

J


Greetings Jay,

I have read a lot about grafting and am familiar with it but I have only grafted a few things years ago, so I am not a good resource in this regard. We have around 7 hicans growing here, all about 30 feet tall. I believe one had a couple of nuts last year but I am sure it takes a while for them to become prolific. Since they a hickory cross they likely have an enormous tap root so my gut feeling would be to plant the nuts if one can located some. Regarding the persimmons, they are quite delicious. Commercially they are too much trouble to package properly when harvesting. We sold a bunch a couple of years ago but it really was not worth the work. They are a soft, rather small fruit - 1 to 2" max in diameter-- so they have to be packaged with some care. We eat what we want right off the trees and leave the rest on the tree, they dry out during the late fall and are still good to eat when they get somewhat dry, a persimmon flavoured raisin lol. An old friend of mine wrote a wonderful book on nuttrees including persimmons and pawpaws. I shall talk to his daughter as to whether it is permissible to send copies to friends and associates.

best,
/* Philip */
 
S Haze
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Hi Phillip!

You've given us lots of great information about paw paws already but I have one more question maybe you could address. I'm right on the edge of the USDA hardiness zone 4 and 5 and I was wondering if you have any advice for growing them in this climate. (probably pushing the limits of their natural range) Protection from the coldest winter wind seems like an obvious precaution but what about sunlight? Would it be better to plant them where they get full winter sun and shelter like the south side of a building or a 'U' shaped suntrap or should they instead be somewhere where there is some shade in the winter and a little more sun in the summer like the north side of a low building or hedgerow?

I've tried to grow a couple paw paw that survived for a couple years before dying but unfortunately I haven't learned enough from that one experience to make a good judgement about what went wrong.
 
Philip Perlman
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Location: Ulster County, NYS
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S Haze wrote:Hi Phillip!

You've given us lots of great information about paw paws already but I have one more question maybe you could address. I'm right on the edge of the USDA hardiness zone 4 and 5 and I was wondering if you have any advice for growing them in this climate. (probably pushing the limits of their natural range) Protection from the coldest winter wind seems like an obvious precaution but what about sunlight? Would it be better to plant them where they get full winter sun and shelter like the south side of a building or a 'U' shaped suntrap or should they instead be somewhere where there is some shade in the winter and a little more sun in the summer like the north side of a low building or hedgerow?

I've tried to grow a couple paw paw that survived for a couple years before dying but unfortunately I haven't learned enough from that one experience to make a good judgement about what went wrong.


We are Zone 5 here and this winter was like zone 4 lol and all of our trees are doing fine. Theoretically pawpaws are an understory tree and I have them planted 2 ways. The way I first described in my earlier email to Dan Boone and in rows where I have 4 rows of about 18 trees per row, 12 feet apart. If you email me, culann@earthlink.net, I can send you more specific info.

best,

/* Philip */
 
John Saltveit
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Hi Philip,
Do you have a favorite variety of American persimmon? Paw paws and persimmons are some of my favorite fruits.
John S
PDX OR
 
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