Somewhat unexpectedly, we will have persimmon rootstock available at the propagation fair this weekend. (Diospyros lotus, which we use as persimmon rootstock is, by the by, one candidate for the ‘lotus tree’ mentioned in The Odyssey. It was so delicious that those who ate it forgot about returning home and wanted to stay and eat lotus with the lotus-eaters. Better, methinks, to bring the lotus home.)
Although we haven’t collected persimmon scion so far, we are fortunate in that persimmon is one of the last trees to bud out. Where we are pushed to collect most fruit scion in December and January while the budwood is still dormant, our persimmon-scion collection-window is still open. We are on target to collect an unnamed variety somewhere along Alder tomorrow morning but, if you have a named persimmon fruit tree in your yard, please consider collecting scion to bring it to the fair to share this Saturday. One or two sticks will do. I’ve attached details below on scion-collection protocol.
Please also bring fig cuttings as you are able. They are very, very popular and cuttings tend to fly out the door. Named varieties, labelled, are preferred. Raspberry and other divisions are also very popular. Again, if you know the cultivar name, please label where appropriate. But don’t let lack of a name stop you bringing proven-performers to the fair to share. Please label with as much info as you know. (Fall raspberries…ever-bearing strawberries…native…and so forth.) And of course, please bring seed to our free seed exchange. You are also, welcome to come along completely empty-handed.
We have been very actively chasing down and collecting fruit material for several months, now. This year, across the board, we have made a very deliberate effort not to ‘go for numbers’ but to intensively target well-proven PNW performers. A great many of these varieties are not known outside PNW fruit-ubergeek inner circles. Indeed, efforts by fruit enthusiasts in recent years to ‘decode the comparative ecology’ of some massive but little-examined PNW fruit collections have clearly revealed to us ‘unknowns’ which startlingly outperform the varieties, for example, commonly promoted by the trade as particularly well-suited to organic regimens, across all major fruit types.
Old timers will affirm that disease-resistance is not the only but the dominant trait determining how well great fruit performs in the PNW. Those of us alert to disease trends in PNW fruit anticipate certain diseases will pick-up in forthcoming years, including those which kill trees. We are quietly confident this weekend’s Prop fair is making available the most diverse selection of high-performing, disease-resistant material yet assembled in the PNW – ‘where disease-resistant trees meet great fruit.’
Although we are strong in all major fruit types, we are particularly pleased with our seedless and seeded grapes this year. Grape cuttings are extremely easy to propagate – essentially, you stick ’em in the ground and stand back.
We will also be using this fair to introduce some entirely new fruit ‘classes’ to American audiences, in diverse quantity – June and July bearing pears, for example, largely out of eastern europe, but proven in the USDA’s pear repository in Corvallis.
We are also particularly strong in Asian pears and detailed descriptions to accompany them. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that Asian pears consistently outyield all other fruit trees in the PNW. This year we are rich in locally proven material from China, Japan and Korea. Some of the thirty or so varieties we will be offering are thousands of years old – which naturally implies a hardwon degree of ecological resilience.
Best bring your reading glasses to the fair. You will want to browse the descriptions – an absolutely crucial element of what is on offer there – and which will allow you to make sense of the vast array of material on offer across all types and classes of fruit – red-fleshed, cider, perry, oregonian, disease-resistant, keeping, high-yielding, large, early, pretty, etc. – including some just-made-available assessments from PNW old timers of ‘my favorite varieties.’ Also bring sharpies and masking tape to label scion, and a container to put scion and cuttings and so forth into. There will, of course, be rootstock and grafters at the fair to make trees for you if you don’t want to do it yourself. We have a diverse array of superb rootstock in especially impressive condition, this year. There will be explanations and help at the fair allowing you to make appropriate rootstock choices.
The prop fair is, fundamentally, a local community event, entirely participant-driven. Free to all comers, all the material we offer at it is freely shared (though we charge a very small fee to cover the cost of rootstocks should you want them). Our small organizing team has been holding firm so far. But, not surprisingly, our need for volunteers is picking up very markedly this week. We have a small workparty tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10.00 a.m. just offa Coburg Road. And then a need for all-hands-on-deck on Friday afternoon for set-up in the LCC cafeteria, and throughout the day on Saturday. If you can devote time to a short shift, please drop a line on our volunteer co-ordinator, Jamina Schupack (jaminashupack at gmail dot com) and let us know you are coming.
Volunteering around the prop fair is a great way to learn about the fruity potential in your life and a little of your support will go a long way.
Collecting persimmon scion.
Preferably, cut scion a little less than the diameter of a lead pencil, or smaller, to match up with our rootstock this year. Cut to 12” lengths, although shorter pieces are perfectly fine. Tightly tie or rubber-band your cuttings in a clearly-labeled bundle we can put into a ‘yoghurt’ container, bundled so that all pieces can ‘drink’ from the moisture in the bottom.
Vigorous shoots are best but avoid collecting from suckers or water-sprouts (these shoots, which grow vertically from the base of the tree or vertically from lateral branches, are slowest to bear fruit). Collect first-year wood (last year’s growth) preferably from laterals. Next-favored are the terminal shoots at the top of the tree. In this particular instance, seek wood on the tree which shows less bud-break – often on the northern side of the tree.