All the dirt on gardening: Fruit trees, round two

By far my favourite fruit tree in the garden is my persimmon. By far the birds’, bats’ and possums’ favourite fruit is also the persimmon.

Imagine a small tree (approximately two metres maximum) that not only bears delicious fruit, but produces the most beautiful autumn foliage prior to dropping its leaves in late autumn or winter. Imagine living in a subtropical or temperate climate and being able to have an ornamental tree that produces such colours.

There are two different varieties of persimmon. Astringent and non-astringent. Astringent varieties are eaten when the flesh has softened and become gooey – almost like jelly. Non-astringent varieties are eaten straight from the tree and are crunchy like an apple. How can I explain the unique taste? Sort of a cross between an almond and apricot is the best I can do. My tree is non-astringent. Generally, non-astringent varieties need a warmer climate that astringent.

I think my variety is called Fuyu, but I didn’t keep the label. I looked up a gardening book when I planted it and it said they don’t need fertiliser so in the 7 or so years I’ve had it, no fertiliser. I also don’t water it. Recently I googled it and they do need a fertiliser with nitrogen and potassium but go easy on the phosphorus. Mr Google also said I should water it in Spring and summer. It must be a very hardy tree as I’ve done none of that. Persimmon will also flourish in a wide range of soil types.

So this year I decided to put those net bags that oranges and onions come in around the fruit I could reach to stop my crop being donated to wildlife. Things were going great until one day I came out and either bats or the local possum had managed to eat the fruit through the netting. So nothing this year as the birds had a feast on those that weren’t netted. Then late autumn the tree gave me its usual display of yellow, orange and red leaves, almost as an indication that it is still there and not to neglect it, even though I was unable to pick it’s fruit.

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Within the area my persimmon grows I also have a macadamia nut tree. Amazing how the long flower spikes become long rows of nuts. They say it takes years to produce, but mine started the first year and has produced every year for the past 6 years. There is also a fejoa, a strawberry guava, and a dwarf peach in there. The plumcot died and we had to get rid of the apricot as it didn’t bear fruit – well it did, but the wind blew the fruit off before it ripened each year.

If you are looking for a small ornamental tree, consider the persimmon – that spectacular display of autumn foliage is preceded by the most delicious fruit.

What types of fruit trees do you or have you grown before?

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