September 2021. Pawpaw volunteers are a fact of life. About three weeks ago, I was admiring the stump sprout dubbed Phoenix that is replacing the pawpaw I cut down. Genetically, it is the gone pawpaw, and it has all the resources of the full-grown root system that was left behind. Continue reading “The Secret Pawpaws”
Funny you should ask.
In June, the roots of the gone pawpaw were sending up shoots, but not in good spots, so I cut them down.
I’ve been eying my bigger pawpaw nervously since last August.
By the end of March, I was sure it was leaning more, and it was leaning too much. It had to go. I’ll figure out what to do with the space later. The best time of year to remove a deciduous plant that you want permanently gone is right when the buds are starting to swell—all that new growth uses up the plant’s reserves—and the buds were starting to swell.
On April 4, I took out my limb saw and cut off all the limbs as well as the main trunk, as high as I could reach on a ladder.
Now I had that trunk glaring balefully through my kitchen window. My bow saw seems to have disappeared. I suspect it got mixed in with some stuff I had hauled out of my basement. I really didn’t want to tackle it with my limb saw. The teeth are way too fine for this job, and the blade is rather short.
On the other hand, I had that dying trunk glaring at me, and a very sharp saw that cuts on both the push and the pull stroke, with a comfortable handle, and the tree was leaning quite a bit. There was no question of where it would land.
It took two weeks to talk myself into using the limb saw. I took the trunk out very carefully, because it turned out that the trillium are multiplying under cover of the Dutchman’s breeches, right in range of the saw tip. I tried not to wreck them. I mostly succeeded—you can see a couple to the right of the stump and just below its near edge.
In the end, I pushed the trunk over and walked and rolled it out of the way.
None of the remaining plants get any shade at this time of year because pawpaws don’t leaf out until May, and the silver maple above everything is just leafing out now. My current plan is to go through this calendar year and see what changes need to be made. Trillium really like shade, so I will watch them closely.
The other pawpaw seems to be fine, so I will leave it alone. They are neat trees. Unfortunately, there will be no pawpaws without a second tree.
I believe that if this were an apple tree, with an apple tree’s superficial and small root system, it would have been completely ripped out of the ground by this storm. Pawpaws have taproots, and I think that’s what is holding the tree up.
Using a level app on my phone, I see that the trunk is leaning roughly 17° off vertical, and the big cluster of pawpaws at the top are pulling the top section to horizontal. Just add adolescent raccoons…. If the tree were to go over, it would probably land on the blue fescue and whack the western edge of the oakleaf hydrangea.
It has a very heavy crop ripening, mostly just beyond the upper right-hand corner of this photograph. The lower branches form a tent you could hide in. I will be even more careful about where I stand under this tree.
I have to assess it this winter when I can see the trunk and branches. I may be removing both pawpaw trees in late winter. There’s no use keeping one—they are not self-fruitful.
The fruit on my pawpaws is not particularly large this year, but there seems to be quite a bit of it.
Somehow, it’s August. Not only that, l spent last week, one of two between-semester weeks off, cooking, paying bills, catching up with my accountant, weeding, mowing, rearranging a few plants, and having meetings with mixed success. I did get a few things done towards a drawing that is, so far, a year in the making.
I knew that my garden was fraying, but it really didn’t sink in fully until I realized that I had completely forgotten about an empty spot right by the back door that I
would have to deal should have dealt with in the spring—of 2020. Last week I realized that spot had taken care of itself. It’s not subtle in bloom.
The pawpaws have been dangling, to the ground in some cases, since the end of September. Back at the end of May, I saw small clouds of the flies that pollinate pawpaws for the first time. They apparently did a grand job, because both trees have had plenty of fruit this fall. The pawpaws on the eastern tree are even larger than usual this fall. I ate the first one September 30—they are weighing in close to a pound and a half.
The business of spring is reproduction. Pawpaw flowers open at the same time as the trees start to leaf out. The dormant buds look like tiny pieces of fur, and the flowers remain surprisingly furry as they expand.
I have been sporadically raking and moving leaves around the last couple of weeks, although most of the raking is still to come. Most leaves are still firmly attached to their plants. I love fall colors, so it is worth getting away from my desk in the afternoon.
People seem to get uneasy when you tell them that you have to cut around seeds, so I took a couple of pictures to show pawpaw innards.
First, cut around the long axis with a paring knife. The flesh is soft, so it is easy to use the seed as a knife stop inside the fruit. Continue reading “A Quick Peek Into a Pawpaw”