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A little more long-term

2 May 2013

I decided to start a project that will be a little more long-term this year, though hopefully it won’t require a ton of effort. I’m going to grow a few fruit trees. So far I’ve bought three from Niche Gardens.

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This is a pawpaw tree, and I bought two of them because I was told that I’ll need two that aren’t genetically identical in order to actually get pawpaws. It only had two tiny little leaves at the top when I planted it about a week and a half ago, so everything else is new growth. I hope that’s a good sign that it survived the transplanting well! I thought about building a fence around it since I planted it down near the pond close to the regular deer path through this neighborhood, but I read on Wikipedia that deer think it tastes bad, so I’ll take a chance and leave it out in the open. Also, right after I bought these, a friend informed me that she knew where I could get wild pawpaw seeds, which I could have germinated and planted later this year or next year. Oh well. I’ve never eaten a pawpaw and I’m eager to try one.

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This is a serviceberry tree, amelanchier lamarckii, to be exact. I’ve read a lot of great things about serviceberries and how delicious and nutritious they are, but I can’t recall ever eating one. I’ve seen serviceberry jams in roadside shops in the Appalachian mountains, but I don’t think I’ve eaten that, either. While this variety is a cultivated hybrid, there are native species, and now that I know what they look like, if I ever find one, I will attempt to gather some seeds and germinate them. I planted this tree in the front yard next to the stump of an old ornamental cherry tree that died in a hurricane.

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When I bought this serviceberry, it was starting to bloom, and it continued to bloom vigorously even while I kept it in the basement. After I planted it, it began producing berries. I was very surprised that all this happened during the whole transplanting process! I guess this species is quite sturdy. Perhaps what people say about hybrid vigor is true in this case. I hope the berries will be edible this year, though it looks like there will only be a couple dozen of them.

This isn’t the end of my tree project, however! There’s a decrepit little peach tree in the corner of the yard that my parents transplanted from near Wilmington from my great great aunt’s property when she died. It’s never done well here, but it’s also in a bad spot where it hardly gets any sun, and peach trees love sun. It’s survived all these years, but produces rock-hard inedible peaches. I’m going to try to germinate some pits and see if I can get at least one planted in a better spot somewhere. I have my doubts about this, though. Peaches are quite finicky and central NC is not the best area for them. I’m also going to try to germinate some persimmon pits from the tree in my grandmother’s yard. I’ve located some wild spicebush plants and I will try to germinate some seeds from them later this year. I took some cuttings of the spicebush and tried to get them to root, but they died. The spicebush is the one that excites me the most. I’ve also never eaten those drupes. Look for another post about my fruit-eating and tree-propagating experiences later this fall. This tree project is also part of my mission to learn more about and spread awareness of local edible species. Food diversity is a good thing for all sorts of reasons!

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