My wife Kathy and I moved into our current home in 1979. I finally have space to create a garden and plant fruit trees. Over the next two to three years he planted some of the usual varieties: apples, apricots, peaches, figs.
We were thinking otherwise when Cathy suggested the persimmon tree. Ready to deploy my vast knowledge and experience, I asked the key question: “What are persimmons?” I quickly found a tree with bare roots.
Persimmons are said to grow in zones 7-10, and Red Bluff is usually considered to be in zone 9, so this worked. The trees are fairly drought tolerant and like well drained soil, so that worked too. They like full sun and want room to spread out.
I decided to plant it in my garden. We did what we normally do. I dug a clean deep hole and mixed compost and a little fertilizer into the soil. Then waited for the results…and waited and waited. A few weeks later, there were no leaves, so I thought something was wrong. I learned something.
The persimmon is the national fruit of Japan and originally came from the Orient. According to the website “Kidadl” article “Facts about Wintery Persimmon Trees You’ve Never Heard Of”, persimmons are a very important part of Japanese culture.
The scientific name of the oyster is oyster, and the cultivar is Fuyu. Many persimmons are astringent and soft, but Fuyu can be eaten like an apple. It still softens and can be used like the astringent variety in cookies, puddings, etc. More on this later.
It is said that it takes three to five years for a persimmon tree to bear fruit, and this is also our experience. Yields are low when young, but they increase and the tree grows fairly quickly.
Fast forward a few years and I was harvesting hundreds of persimmons each year. The number of persimmons kept increasing, so one year I decided to count the persimmons I harvested one by one. We ended up with about 1,700, with about 200 left on the tree (too expensive to harvest). This continues year after year. It is a long season, with harvest beginning in the first or second week of November and continuing through December. What happens to the fruit left on the tree? Birds take care of it. Even hummingbirds enjoy the softened berries, sticking their beaks into the skin to suck out the juice.
Why persimmon? Cathy and I, along with many of our friends, love them. They also feature carotenoid antioxidants for heart health and are a great source of dietary fiber. Used in cookies and puddings, chopped hard fruit into oatmeal. Sliced and dried. Most of all, I love to peel and eat them.
The tree is both graceful and decorative. The leaves usually change color to yellow, brown or maroon in the fall. This year, however, the ice has frozen early and the leaves have begun to fall from the dull green.
We planted trees about 40 years ago. I can honestly say that I would like to do it again.