Grow a Persimmon Tree
"Farmdener" Lee Reich, Ph. D. knows a thing or two about persimmon trees. The author of books including Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, Landscaping with Fruit and Grow Fruit Naturally considers himself "more than a gardener and less than a farmer," hence his self-appointed title.
Located in New Paltz, New York, his "farmden" is a "test site for innovating techniques in soil care, pruning and growing fruits and vegetables." He says persimmons are very easy to grow and he often eats them raw, adds them to his home-brewed beer or mills and dries them into fruit leather.
But it all starts in the yard. Here are his are few of his trade secrets on tree care, climate and when to pick the fruits of your labor:
Ground Rules "The trees need a site with well-drained soil and full sun," Reich says. "For the first season, water as needed, cut away any stems that are crowding or misplaced and keep weeds at bay with an organic mulch. After that, the trees need little in the way of pruning or pest control."
Degrees of Separation "Asian persimmons are cold hardy to about zero degrees, though some varieties, such as 'Eureka' and 'Sheng', tolerate cold to minus 20 degrees," Reich says. "American persimmons are hardy to minus 25 degrees, possibly colder. My climate is too cold for Asian persimmons; American persimmons that do well here include 'Szukis', 'Mohler', 'Dooley' and 'Yates'. All have excellent flavor. Both species need sufficient summer heat to ripen their fruits."
Ripe Dreams "Persimmons ripen in early summer and into autumn, depending on the variety," Reich says. "You can see the color changing and the fruits softening, often dropping off the branches.