Jay Emm

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since Jun 07, 2016
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forest garden trees urban
Southern Ontario, 6A
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Recent posts by Jay Emm

So Amjad (et al.), we're approaching October.  How did your garden grow?

My goldenberries are a huge success.  They're producing fruit, and have been for a few weeks.  They seem to ripen a few here, and a few there, which is fine by me.  Four plants have easily taken over a 1.25m x 1.25m plot.  Interestingly, basil has grown very happily underneath them.  They were susceptible to cucumber beetles when they were little, but they quickly outgrew the ability of the beetles to do significant damage.  The squirrels have found them, though...  

The Madison peach, which had the worse time with leaf curl out of my two, has (so far) ended up outgrowing the other.  Who knew?

All four of my pawpaws are getting ready for fall, with new growth hardening off, and leaf and flower buds set for next year.  The Ontario ones were far and away the most vigorous growers, having handily caught up to the NC-1 and Susquehanna.  The Ontario pawpaws have lots of big, fat, furry leaf buds, no flower buds.  The Susquehanna has smaller leaf buds, mostly hidden by the leaf stems, a few flower buds, and well-developed terminal buds.  The NC-1 is packed with flower buds, and each branch has a nice big terminal bud.
They are native to Ontario, yes.  Unfortunately, their habitat here has mostly been destroyed over the past few centuries, so they only exist in isolated clusters.  Settlers preferred pears and apples over pawpaws, and many riverlands got turned into industrial land and pasture land.  Their natural range here ends right where zone 6 stops - not too far from me.

Greenbarn is waaaay north of us, so whatever they're producing should be nice and cold-hardy.  I understand that they get fruit, too, which is great to know for northern growers.

Apart from sun and wind conditions, I'd caution people up north to be careful buying bare-root, and buying early-fruiting varieties.  Pawpaws don't like being transplanted bare-root.  They'll do it, but expect them to be unhappy for a year or two.  They may have significant die-back.

Also, most pawpaws expect a reasonably long summer to produce fruit, and many varieties might run out of warm weather in zone 4 or 5 (even 6).  PA Golden and NC-1 are the earliest two I know of.

2 years ago
If I could give only one piece of advice it would be to buy your pawpaws potted.  My experience has been that up to 50% of bare root transplants die in their first winter, and most suffer horribly before they bounce back.  Potted seedlings and grafted trees, meanwhile, tend to do fine.
2 years ago
Amjad - My peaches haven't been dying back, but they haven't grown either during the hot, dry spell.  We had our first actual rain a few days ago, but within hours the soil had turned to dust again.  I'm sure I'm racking up a fortune irrigating off city water.  The figs, too, had sort of paused until I started watering them once, sometimes twice daily.  Oh well.  My pawpaws, meanwhile, have been growing steadily.  I guess that's thanks to their gimongous long taproots?

It seems like we're either beset by screeching cold or baking heat these days.  I hope your peach tree rejuvenates itself next year.

Actually, regarding your pawpaws - last year two of mine were in the same situation as yours.  They'd just been transplanted in the spring, they were potted from Grimo, and I remember anxiously waiting for them to set leaf buds.  It wasn't until the fall that they did so - the NC-1 set good, fat, fuzzy ones; the Susquehanna set teeny tiny little ones - both in the middle of October.  (My two seedling pawpaws, meanwhile, had long since set their buds.)  This year they all started producing buds in June.  I'm guessing that has to do with maturity.  I bet you yours will flourish.

I'll let you know if I get the cactus.  I have a spot picked out, but I'm already up to my eyeballs in gardening

John - what variety of prickly pear do you have?
I forgot - prickly pear. Definitely want to get some. Looking for a good spot where my kids won't fall in it... I found a vendor in St. Catherines area. Have you grown them?

Figs to minus 20 - that sounds bonkers to me. Figs can take subzero (Celcius - I can't make head nor tail of Fahrenheit) temperatures ~if~ they're dormant. If not, it kills all the green matter on the fig. My dormant figs have taken -8 and windy with no die-back. I have been very reticent to let them go lower than -10 because, though they'll grow back, that affects the amount of fruit they'll produce.

I can see where, in a protected spot under a thick cover of snow, a fig could survive -20. Only it wouldn't feel -20 in those conditions. Some people in the US near us will wrap their figs in insulation to overwinter them. I want to try that sometime. See if I can keep one in ground that way.
Hey Amjad. Your fig box sounds great. Most hardy figs for sale around here can take -10 to -15 when dormant, just not with any wind all. So leaving it in an insulated box is what lots of folks do. We dug mine down a ways so I could fit more in. Others just lay theirs out sideways in a ditch and cover it over with leaves and something solid, like a sheet of plywood (I heard of someone using discarded insulated doors) to keep vermin out. You can plant them in ground that way - bend them into a trench and cover.

I would love to grow pomegranates, and I hear some fig growers overwinter them like figs. But it sounds like potted pomegranates just don't produce much, and I want plants that will pay off, you know? I watched a bit of that video, and I'll give it more of a look when I can. I wonder how their pomegranate experiment went.

That's cool that you know cape gooseberries - and that you worked in food service. Theyre delicious aren't they? Mine are currently fighting off a cucumber beetle infestation. I'll let you know how it goes. Despite it all, the plants are starting to shoot up.

I'd like to know more about kiwi vines. Are they like the real thing? I'm also hoping to get my grape vine ranging up our shed. We need to do some cosmetic repairs to it ,but structurally it's sound.

So, you're worried about growing persimmons in Zone 6? I thought 6 was okay for them. Though I hear you, the winters of 2014 and 2015 were horrific. I figure that if my pawpaws survived those two in a row, they'll be fine here!

Are you in a windy spot, or more protected? I ask because I moved from a windy location where everything suffered to a more protected one where all my perennial food plants are way happier. (Didnt move for that reason, but I definitely did want to live in a nicer microclimate ...)

P.S. My NC-1 and Susquehanna are already forming tiny flower buds for next year in the joints where the leaves meet the stems!!! I'm stoked! They're well ahead of where they were this time last year, probably because they're over the transplant shock.
Ooooh your persimmon looks very happy. How long do they take to produce? I've only had the imported astringent kind, never an American persimmon. I thought about growing some, but I'm fast running out of room. Glad to hear about your black currants, raspberries, and figs. I've never had luck with black currants. I don't know what it is, but I seem to have the touch of death with them.

What figs do you grow? I've gone a bit bonkers with them. I've got two Natalinas, a Hardy Chicago, and a Ficazzana all in big pots. They started producing last year, and man are they ever better than the store bought ones, right? This year I sprung for a Violette de Bordeaux and a Stella. Aside from those six, I have eight clones of them from cuttings growing in smaller pots. I'm going to try planting one in-ground at some point, but for now I keep them all in cold storage for the winter.

It sounds like your cherry may be done for, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Mine is a Lapins dwarf from Whiffletree. I've had good luck with their product, though their customer service is a bit slow in spring (I get it - it must be a super busy time for them). What peach cultivar(s) do you have? Cause it seems like you're having luck there, leaf curl aside. (The more I read about it, the more leaf curl seems like something you just have to expect from time to time in our climate - though I'll still be doing whatever I can to prevent it.)

I'm growing cape gooseberries this year, and they've been doing well so far, if a bit slowly. They're still smallish, but it seems they're starting to shoot up. They didn't take that long to germinate, but then they seemed to have this slow period after transplanting. Perhaps they were setting their roots? I dunno.

This year I planted a Reliance grape, too. I'm starting to get my head around how to train and prune them, though it appears it'll be minimal pruning in the first year. It's a vigorous grower, that's for sure. I have green patty pans, too, speaking of vigorous growers. I was harvesting from them hand over fist last year. I got fourteen kilos of them from a handful of plants. And twenty-one kilos of buttercup squash from three mounds. I was eating them into February.

There's nothing else I've got from your list. I have lots of raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries. One of the blackberries is doing extremely well, covered in gorgeous blooms these days. I was thinking of growing haskaps, but like I said, running out of room.

I don't know of anyone growing pomegranates. I was thinking of getting a Salavatski if I could, trying my luck, but I've got a lot on the go already! What have you read/heard about pomegranates around these parts?
My four year-old loves picking lettuce greens and baby kale. She can water them all she wants, and it was very easy for her to learn how to pick them. She also likes being able to eat what she picks right away.

Any plant with flowers that attract a lot of pollinators has gone over well, too. She'll sit and watch the bees and bugs, giving them all cute little names and making up back-stories for them.

I'm totally taking note of other people's suggestions. Having a wee trellis sounds like a particularly fun idea. Thanks everyone!
2 years ago
Yeah, your PA Golden looks very happy. So does that one NC-1, and I'm sure the other will perk up. As for the clay soil, according to the Peterson Pawpaws site:

The best soil for pawpaw is a deep, rich, humusy loam with good drainage and a steady moisture supply. Fortunately, pawpaws are adaptable and will tolerate many different soils including heavy clay or sand. They do not tolerate water logged soils, however. Avoid sites where water stands for periods of time. Sandy soils possess good drainage but present problems of low fertility and low moisture holding capacity. The soil acidity should be in the range of pH 5.5 to 7.0.



I don't know how peaches or cherries will do, but I've read that cherries don't like heavy soil. If the inner bark of your cherry is green, that means that the tree's still transporting water and sugars, which is a good sign I think. Sounds like your Persimmon is doing okay, though?

Have you tried beer traps for your slugs? I had problems with them when I started gardening, as a teenager, and beer traps managed to bring the slugs down to a tolerable number. Do you have raised beds?
Yeah, I got my Susquehanna the first year they were available from Grimo. I've been reading now about how they might not have enough time to ripen. I thought about pulling it up and going with PA Golden, but it's been a vigorous grower for me and I'd hate to kill such a happy tree. I live by Lake Ontario in the GTA, so I might pin my hopes on a heat island/lake effect double whammy to keep it going juuust long enough to get me some fruit. It may be a fantasy, but I figure if I've got three other pawpaws I can roll the dice on a fourth.

But please keep me updated about how your PA Golden does. If it's super happy I may jump ship.

I included (week-old) pictures of my NC-1, Susquehanna, and one of the seedlings (which got squished by a fence two winters ago - you can see the break in the picture; last year the new growth was slooow, this year it's been rocketing up, along with the other seedling). I think the leaves have doubled in size in the last week. The lean is most obvious on the NC-1, less so on the Susquehanna, and even less so on the seedling.

I used the tree shelters when I first planted them last year, even though they're all shaded around noon by a big black walnut. I took them off in August as it seemed silly - they shaded themselves and most of the foliage was out of the shelters anyway. They seemed quite happy. This year I haven't used the shelters at all and they're growing fine. They're certainly less cranky than my peach or cherry trees... I think preventing them from flowering or fruiting, like you did, is a good idea. They are so cantankerous when they're transplanted (ask me about why I gave up on buying them bare root...) that I think they need to focus on their roots for the first few years after being transplanted.

(Can I tell you how stoked I am to find someone else growing pawpaws in Ontario???)

What kind of soil do you have? And how old are your trees? Because it's my experience that newly-planted fruit trees look kinda sad for the first year.