Back behind the barn, past the chicken house, beside the ditch, is our pawpaw orchard – and by orchard I mean 9 small trees.
Pawpaws are a “tropical fruit” native to North America, growing in the Carolinian forests in Kentucky, Ohio and north to Southern Ontario – around Lake Erie & in the Niagara peninsula. Once popular with indigenous people & early settlers they began to disappear as the woodlands were cleared for farming & development. Now they are considered to be somewhat rare.
I planted our pawpaws about 8 or 9 years ago, mostly on a whim. Reading a nursery catalogue, I came upon the description …
This unusual small native pawpaw tree is not only strikingly ornamental with its delicate purple blooms in the spring and its long drooping leaves, but it produces clusters of custard-like oval fruits that ripen in the fall. The trees are insect and disease resistant. The leaves and twigs have anti-oxidant properties as well as insecticidal uses. (www.grimonut.com)
So I immediately ordered 10 seedlings without much thought or planning. When they arrived in spring I had to find a place to plant them. Back behind the barn, past the chicken house … seemed like a good spot.
They struggled to survive as pawpaws are difficult to transplant. And being out of sight (back behind the barn …) they were neglected. But 9 grew and became lovely small trees, about 8-10′ tall now. They have produced a few fruit in the last couple of years – just enough for us to devour & enjoy!
This year’s crop of pawpaws is larger. They are hanging thick on the trees.
Some hang singly, but most are in flat clusters of about 5 fruit. They bruise easily, have an extremely short shelf life, ripen unevenly, vary greatly in size and tend to drop readily. For these reasons they will never be a commercially viable crop.
But the taste – the taste is heavenly! Distinctly tropical like a banana/mango/pineapple with a soft, mushy, custard-like texture. I slice them in half & scoop out the delicious flesh with a spoon. Each fruit has a lot of large, hard seeds.
This year we finally have enough pawpaws to take to market. The first couple of baskets came to North York with us yesterday. People loved them! They were snapped up in a hurry! We will have a very few more for the final Georgetown market tomorrow.
It’s fun to grow an uncommon & unusual fruit like pawpaws. It’s even more fun to eat them!
If anyone’s looking for me, I’ll be back behind the barn, past the chicken house, beside the ditch in our pawpaw orchard – slurping on delicious pawpaws!