Plain Gardening: Persimmons

Plain Gardening: Persimmons

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Late summer is a great fruit time for the Gulf Coast, and persimmon is one of this area’s finest.  I say “is” but should say “are”—there are lots of varieties.

American persimmons, the small ones, usually don’t mature until November.  But now is the time for larger Japanese persimmons like fuyu and giombo.  Wait until they’re soft before picking.  Ripe persimmons look and feel like a orange-red tomato.

Bill Finch calls persimmons the “apples of the Gulf Coast”.  He says while apples don’t do well here, persimmons flourish with little help once they’re put in the ground.  They don’t need a lot of pruning or pesticide, and they can be downright precocious when it comes to producing fruit; that is, they produce fruit fairly quickly after planting.  The saijo variety can sometimes set a few fruits in the second year!

For best results on any fruit tree, though, Bill says to eliminate fruits before they develop during the first and second year.  Leave only a few fruits the third year, and on the fourth you’ll have as many as you can eat.

Persimmons are deliciously sweet and nutty right off the tree, but can also be used in jams, sauces, ice creams, and even persimmon cheesecake.

Learn more about persimmons from the Master Gardeners at mobilebotanicalgardens.org.

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