Going Native

| 10/4/2016 10:19:00 AM

Andrew WeidmanHanging Fruit

There’s a hole in our mini orchard. We laid out the back corner of our yard for four little trees: two apples and two pears. Right now, there are three. There’s the Paradise apple, a local antique from Paradise, PA (yes, Paradise really can be found in Pennsylvania, just down the road from Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand — but that’s another blog post entirely). Beside it stands my Ditlow’s Hard Winter, a rescue apple with a provisional name and no known history, one tree of a variety on the brink of oblivion. Catty-corner from the Hard Winter is my Elwood’s Homestead, grafted from an ancient, one-of-a-kind seedling lingering on my parents’ farm. The second pear tree failed. Twice. I think it’s time to take a different tack.

Last weekend, Jessie and I took in the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA (more on that in a different post). We sat in on Michael Judd’s "Fruit in the Edible Garden" talk, part of which covered pawpaws.

Pulp and Seeds

Pawpaws are an unusual fruit. They grow across the eastern half of the country, from Georgia to just below New England, out to the Middle West and Nebraska, according to Lee Reich. Apparently, the only big-tree fruit native to North America, they’re also from a tropical family, related to cherimoya, custard apples, and soursops. The fruits look like lumps of green Play-Doh, smell like bananas, and can taste like them, too, or maybe melon or mango.

They’re also attractive trees, small and pyramidal with big, tropical-looking leaves, glossy green throughout the summer before turning bright yellow in the fall.

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