I'm just at the outset of writing 'For The Love of Paw Paws: A Mini Manual for Growing and Caring for Paw Paws - From Seed to Table' - and as eager as I am to share some paw paw savvy with my permies I am looking forward to getting some juicy material from the community to plug in the manual. So, no holding back - if you got a shout out for the love of paw paws let it roll here..
What do I know.. Aside from growing nearly 40 cultivars of paw paw I am an bona fide Appalachian who lives in a holler along a creek, a natural paw paw haven, and I am good friends with the God Father of paw paw breeding, Neil Peterson, and formidable horticultural ninja Jim Davis of Deep Run Paw Paw Orchard - both of whom I talk to and record all the time about... paw paws.
Cred established, I'm about bursting with the need to talk paw paws so lets jump in with some paw paw musing.. I am growing black locust as nurse plant for young paw paws - they give a perfect dappled shade from their small leguminous foliage. Now this takes some pre-planning if you want the locust to offer your seedlings that first two years of shade they like. Once my black locusts are about 3-4 years old I plant my seedlings under them and selectively chop and drop for about 50% shade management. As the seedlings hit year three I really go at the black locust and chop it hard so that my paw paw gets full light and heavy mulch. It doesn't have to be a locust, though they have a perfect leaf size ratio for under-story light and nitrogen fixation to boot - you can chop and drop just about anything since you eventually want it to play out anyway. Elderberry may be an idea to use if you want fast growth for shade and chop & drop - the elderberry is about the fastest growing woody perennial plant I know. Just be on the chop and drop - don't let an over-story develop or you will lose fruit production.
This video, though not locust chop & drop, gives the idea of planning for heavy mulch around the paw paw - who wants high moisture levels to maintain its huge leaf size.
Alright Permies.. after some good 10 year rye last eve I came up with a challenge. As many of you know I am undertaking a new publication all about paw paws - from seed to table, and have a Kickstarter in its final days that the Permie community has supported enormously.
So, the challenge is.. I will research and write about paw paws, pigs and permies in the publication - if the permies.com community steps up and helps reach the last stretch goal of the campaign.
I already have confirmation that pigs dig paw paws from Kate Spinillo of Ham Sweet Farm in Michigan who says "They readily eat fruit & seeds & all.. When I was managing a niche pork production farm in West Virginia a few years ago, if you wanted paw paws you had to get to them before the pigs and other wildlife did. They are some really hot commodities! Longterm we want to be finishing our hogs on mast of all kinds, but of course paw paws are top of the list of good stuff to have around."