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Have you tried a Pawpaw?

Planting Pawpaw trees

If not, you’re not alone. Pawpaw aren’t as well known as many other fruits, even in their own native region!

Most people don’t know about this creamy, luscious fruit. Especially if “You’re not from around here,” as they say. But a taste of a pawpaw is a unique burst of tropical-Appalachian flavor! What a mix!

You won’t find many pawpaw fruits in stores, because they bruise too easily and have too short of a shelf life to be of any good to the commercial market. But, if you live in the Appalachian region, there’s a pretty good chance that someone can tell you where to find a pawpaw. Hint: they’ll be way up in the woods somewhere.

Once you try one, you might be hooked! Or, maybe you’re just like me and like the idea of growing (and eating) a rather exotic-tasting fruit in your own neck of the woods! I am a sucker for native plants, and especially trees with flowers or fruit!

Photo Stark Brothers

Taste of the tropics right in your Tennessee backyard

I’m not going to try to sell you on pawpaws! But if you’re interested, here is a little video from a favorite Nature expert that our family enjoys.

This video features Doug Elliot, a Nature loving man whom we have seen and heard speak at Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge, TN. We enjoy most of his tidbits. We do like this video featuring the Pawpaw.

Our Pawpaw Patch

Recently, I was so blessed to be offered a special treat–Pawpaw seedlings to plant here at Ridge Haven! Let me tell you that I was and am beyond excited! I guess it’s just a Nature Nerd thing!

The dear lady who shared seedlings with me is a kindred Native plant nerd. I say that in the best possible light. We just understand feeling excited over little baby pawpaws, and not everyone gets that. We discussed that and are OK with that, but it’s nice to fine someone else who shares your quirky hobbies!

She offered me tiny pawpaws, and I felt flabbergasted (super happy) when she left me a bunch! So, the next thing to do–get them into the ground!

That’s what we did today! After a couple of hours of digging, patting, covering, and watering, we now have thirteen baby Pawpaw trees scattered around Ridge Haven Homestead. This makes me happy! 😃

Planting the Pawpaw patch

Here’s what we did! Normally, fruit trees require a good bit of work! Soil amendments, etc. maybe I should have done this, but I’ve read that Pawpaw trees grow well in forest environments–that’s where they natively grow. The conditions that pawpaws flourish in is very typical of our wooded hillside. I have a hunch that they like to hang out with the blueberries, and we have those in abundance!  (See Blueberry Hill or Huckleberry Haven?)    We have somewhat acidic soil, with a lot of room in the understory of the woods, which works well until the seedlings grow big enough to stand the direct sunlight.

I found very valuable information on this website, although there are plants of good pawpaw tips out there.

Baby Pawpaws

Here’s what we started with! Thirteen beautiful seedlings, of mixed varieties. The labels had faded on the tags, so we just mixed up the little trees, trying to pair a little one with a bigger, in the hopes that they’d be a different variety. This helps with pollination.

pawpaw seedling
First tree planted
planting pawpaws in understory
Rich soil in woods
pawpaw seedlings
Blessed with this gift of Pawpaw babies
Leaf mold
Leaf mold
pawpaw seedling
Happy little tree!
empty pots
Empty pots mean 13 trees planted!

Rich soil makes Happy Pawpaws

We like to dig up some of the rich leaf mold to put in the holes.  We did this for our blueberry plants, and they have been so happy!  This leaf mold is rich in many nutrients. Thankfully, our woods is full of composted leaves, which makes the top layer of soil very rich.

We mixed up the seedlings, large with small, and tried to find natural places on the hillside for their holes.  Wherever little Sassafras seedlings or blueberry bushes had popped up, I figured was a good spot.  We tried to avoid those areas where we’d done excavating, because we wanted to maintain a natural environment for the little seedlings to grow in.

Now, in our small ravine, on the hillside near to our septic field lines (I had to dig one seedling up after accidentally planting it ON TOP of our septic pipe–OOPS!), and shaded in the understory of our woods, we have a happy pawpaw patch!

We will wait patiently for the trees to grow, but you can be sure that I will be checking in on these tiny little pawpaw trees often!

Have you tried a Pawpaw?  What did you think?  Let me know in the comment section below.

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This article was featured at the Simple Homestead Blog Hop, June 13, 2019.  Click to see other great homesteading posts!

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14 Replies

  1. I have seen a pawpaw fruit but never tasted one. I had no idea what the trees look like. How long will it be before you can pick your own fruit?

  2. I’ve heard of pawpaws but I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted one. I’d love to try it. I’ll have to keep my eyes open at the Farmer’s Market. Once you get a huge harvest, what do you plan on making with them?

    1. I’d love to get a huge harvest, but for now it’s a faraway dream. 😉 I think people mostly eat them fresh. But also freezing would preserve them for smoothies!

      Personally I’ve only tried them one time. They taste very smooth and custardy, but with a different texture than a banana. They have a little tropical hint, maybe like pineapple/banana/something else.

      So… when we hit the jackpot with pawpaws we will share them to spread the joy. And freeze them. My 12-ye old son was telling me he’d be almost 20 by the time we may get fruit. Crazy! But time does fly, so maybe it’ll go fast!
      👒

  3. I have always wanted to plant paw paws…but our winters get too cold for them. Maybe someday we’ll move further south. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing on Farm Fresh Tuesdays!

  4. Thanks for this information. I have really struggled with my little paw paw seedling. I understand they can get burned in the sun so I tried to pick a shady rich spot but I am pretty sure it’s not going to make it. I will try to get several next time to help out.

    1. Leilani—I’ve heard that it’s good to start the tiny trees out in the understory—some shade for protection, rich soil, but where they eventually can burst out into the sun.

      I really hope yours make it!
      🌻

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  6. Our little pawpaw seedlings are now about 4 years old and still very small. Very slow growing. I wonder if I will see them in my lifetime. We started them in planters in deep shade and after 2 years planted them in a mostly shaded area of our back yard. Looks like it got a little growth this year. ugh. I have never seen one or tasted one.

    Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead

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