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20 Feet Tall With Orange Fruits: Plant A Persimmon Tree!

An orange fruit hanging from a tree
Persimmons look tropical but grow well in hardy Vermont zones. Wait to harvest when the fruit is mushy and soft.

The tropical-looking persimmon is hardy in Vermont, has avocado-like leaves and tasty orange fruits that are ready to harvest ...  now!

Persimmon fruits are the size of plums and have to be eaten when mushy-ripe. To add to its appeal, the leaves of this super tall tall plant turn golden in fall. The fruits hang on the tree into November, giving it a spooky look.

Varieties fall into astringent and non-astringent, and Asian and American, categories. Both Asian types won't grow in our climate, though, so search out the astringent American types. Varieties such as Meader, Yates, and Early Golden are hardy to Zone 4 or 5. 

All these trees grow 15-25 feet tall and wide, and most don't need two varieties for cross-pollination.

Plant your persimmon trees in well-drained soil in a protected spot in your yard. Once established, they need very little extra care.

Just note that, if harvested too early, the tannins that cause the astringency make the fruits pretty inedible! Harvest the fruits once they are fully colored and bring them indoors to complete the ripening. While non-astringent Asian types are eaten while still crunchy like apples, for the astringent American types, wait until they're mushy soft, almost pudding-like, before eating for the best flavor.

Q: Like many folks I have seen a boom in the chipmunk population this summer. Now, this fall, I see they have started to take up residence in the Hugelkultur beds I recently built. Will they harm whatever veggies I plant in those beds next spring, or can we peacefully co-exist? — Lyndon, in Waitsfield

It would be ideal if you could peacefully co-exist, but that probably will not happen. Wait until spring to see if the chipmunks are still in residence. If they are, try to drive them off early in the season. Drop castor oil pellets around, as mice, voles and chipmunks do not like the smell.

You can try to add essential oils of peppermint of spearmint onto cotton balls and sprinkle those around the area. The critters don't like those smells, either, and may just pack up and move out on their own.

Q: What is the approach to planting after buckthorn is removed from an area? After time, garlic mustard — another invasive species — has moved in to dominate the ground cover. What would you suggest to plant or treat the area after buckthorn removal? — Dick, in Burlington

This often happens when we take efforts to remove invasive plants from gardens and lawns, like buckthorn. Another invasive will just move right on in and replace it.

Once cleared out, you could try to plant native plants, trees and shrubs. Try grey or red dogwoods or shrubs like viburnum, nannyberry or blackhaw. Pack the newly cleared area with native plants, and that will keep the invasive ones at bay.

A thin grey line.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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