Ambitious gardeners seeking to diversify their food production output could consider growing Pawpaws, according to Cavan resident Andy Harjula.
Tropical in appearance and flavour, the fruit of this North American native tree is highly prized for its flavour and nutritional value. A recent lecture by Ken Taylor of Greenbarn Fruit Tree Nursery in Montreal outlined the fruit tree’s requirements. Harjula planted several trees on his property six years ago which continue to grow but have not yet reached the point of producing fruit. It is listed on the Ontario Ministry of Food and Agricultural website as a specialty crop.
Like most fruit trees, at least two must be planted to allow for cross-pollination: a male and a female. Because the gender of the tree is not identifiable until it produces flowers which happens after a few years, it is best to plant more than two to increase the likelihood of having both sexes. The pollination process is facilitated by beetles and the blowfly, but the rate of pollination is low and home gardeners may need to facilitate the process manually. Andy suggests that having rotting meat in the vicinity of the trees may help, as this is the food source for the blowfly. The small trees require soil that is very organic: preferably at least 25%, slightly acidic and consistently moist but not wet in a location protected from strong winds.
The reward for the wait is large clusters of mango-shaped fruit bursting with nutrition with a flavour described as a cross of mango and banana. The fruit offers vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, calcium, iron as well as all of the essential amino acids.
Seedlings are available locally from Bob Horvat on Lily Lake Rd. or through Greenbarn Nursery at www.greenbarn.ca.