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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Persimmons

Turns out, birds love to eat persimmons, too.
Rick Derevan (Flickr / Creative Commons)
Turns out, birds love to eat persimmons, too.

Usually when I think of fall fruit trees, I think of apples and pears. They're great but there's another fruit tree that I've grown for a while now and it's a beauty.  

Persimmon trees grow 15- to 20-feet tall with beautiful large, tropical looking foliage. They produce orange fruit in fall. When you think of persimmons usually it's the large Asian varieties found in grocery stores shipped from California. Those are hardy only to zone 7, so may survive along the shore in Connecticut. But a better bet is the smaller fruited American persimmons. These are hardy to zone 5, grow best in full sun on well-drained soil and are quite forgiving of imperfect soil conditions. The tree is a beauty in the landscape producing golden colored foliage come fall. I also love them for their small, plum-sized, orange fruits.

American persimmons are astringent, so you don't want to eat them until they are fully ripe and almost mushy. Once they turn orange, harvest the fruits from the trees and let them ripen indoors in a warm room. That's a good way to avoid losing your crop to hungry critters. Once ripe, they have a custardy, sweet flavor that's delicious. No wonder the latin name of persimmon means “Food of the Gods”. I love eating them on their own or using them in shakes or muffins. Once the trees are established, they produce each year and usually don't need another variety for cross pollination. Some of the best varieties to grow include 'Meader', 'Prok', 'Mohler' and 'Evelyn'. These varieties all originated in the New England area and are proven hardy.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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