Introducing a Catskill gardner

Hello! Am a fruit gardener from Upstate New York in the Catskill region, zone 5A. Current focus is native and hybrid persimmons, and hybrid hazelnuts along with a few other odds and ends, such as hardy kiwi, apples, gooseberries. I´ve been busy reading past persimmon posts here.

A decade ago I was an active poster on the GW Fig forum, and the New York City forum before the fig forum was created. Then I left the southern Maryland/DC area to move here to try my hand with dairy goat and cheese making and was unable to continue with those warmer climate figs and pomegranates.

In the Spring of 2013 I purchased several seedling persimmons from Jerry Lehman. He was selling them as rootstocks, but considering my zone and climate here, I thought maybe if I grew them out a few might prove appropriate for climate and produce decent fruit. To save space and expecting to lose some, I planted them 3 to a hole. Most survived, 3 have done fairly well in regards to growth, another 6 are not bad, and a handful are still no bigger than they were when I planted them 8 years ago. The grafted native persimmons I have tried have always died back to the graft union–but perhaps I did not do my best at protecting them. I have a new one in this week from C. England’s nursery to give it one more go. Will also try my hand at grafting when the in ground persimmons start to push their buds. Have only bud-grafted figs before. Also purchased some hybrid seed from England to see if any hybrid seedlings will make it here.

I set out some hazelnuts, both European and hybrid from Oikos the same year as the persimmons. Last year they set nuts for the first time. That encouraged me to buy more, this time I purchased from Z’s Nutty Ridge Nursery who are here in NY state. Looking forward to see how they perform.


Welcome Gene! Keep reading, there is always more to learn!


Hi Gene,
Glad you joined us. It looks like there are more and more relatively cold hardy hybrid persimmons that people here are trying.

@tonyOmahaz5 is in zone 5 so whatever varieties do well for him, should be good for you.

@SMC_zone6 has experimented with various varieties in our zone 6a as well.

Hope they could give you some suggestions.

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Hi Gene! Your pioneering was instrumental in getting figs off the ground in the Mid-Atlantic. I put at least a ton of fresh figs on the local market last year in Chester County PA. Just wanted to say thank you, and welcome to the group!


welcome to the site Gene! it took 8 yrs for your hazels to produce? i was complaining last season that ive only got a handfull of nuts off my 6 yr old bushes. mine came from arbor day. got a hybrid american coming from z’s nutty to try and get some different lineage to promote more nut production. maybe i was just too impatient with the 4 i have.

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Thank for the welcome!
Mamuan – yes, as I have been reading the posts I see yours, Tony´s and others who are having success with persimmons in colder areas–it gives me hope!
hoosierbanana – nice to hear from someone in the fig community! I actually still own the old orchard property where I had my fig orchard. It has long succumbed to sweet gums though. Only the pawpaws and muscadines have continued to thrive unaided in the now dense, smothering thicket of sweet gum. Not sure if the persimmons did against the gums – I never made it that far back into the persimmon section.
Steve – I checked my records, I act set them out in 2012, so even a year earlier! Remember though, the hybid hazelnuts came from Oikos. They sent very tiny things back then. The ones I ordered last year are a little bigger. But yes, it took a long time, so don´t give up hope.


It was around 6 years before I saw my first hazel catkin. I too was surprised it took that long. I attributed it to their not truly full sun location and all of the darned Japanese beetles that feast on their leaves every summer.

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How long did it take the american persimmon seedlings to fruit? I wanted to put a few of them around, but was fearful of a 10 year wait.

Hi Robert–none of my seedling persimmons have fruited yet. But I would encourage you to go ahead and try it if you have the space. They will eventually, and while you´re waiting, you´ll be busy with other things in the garden.

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I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth keeping new grafted persimmon trees in pots for a season or two and protecting in something like a root cellar (I used my well house which is unheated and built into a hill so never quite freezes except near the door). Or you could just keep in place and before extreme cold sets in, protect somehow, even with a ring of fencing and leaves.

Nick England’s grafts tend to be very small and tender when I receive them, but I believe that once the trees start to really grow they become much stronger. Having been in Putnam country for almost 30 years I’ve certainly seen harsher winters than you have where you are in the last 10. -15F used to be common and we reached -22F on a test winter in the '90’s. Your site probably gets about 5 degrees colder than mine on an average winter night.


GeneH… welcome to you.

I am down in the SE… southern middle TN … started a Chicago Hardy fig in 2019 and have had good success with it. I may try some other varieties in a year or two.

I have wild persimmon trees on my 30 acre property… but I don’t forage them, the deer love them but cant say I do.

Good Luck with all you are growing !


Hi TNHunter, thanks! My family is from the TN-MS border area, so not too far from you. A brother lives NE of Nashville.

Alan–that thought has crossed my mind, but do hate keeping the roots all caged like that.
I went ahead and set it out (Early Jewel) yesterday. Will be asking around for the best overwintering techniques.
I made a few attempts in overwinter fig varieties back when I had those, so have a few ideas. I´m thinking of wrapping first in grafting tape, then mounding dry fluffy goat manure using a wire cage to hold it in, then wrapping the cage in a white/light color tarp. What do you think?

I used to protect fig trees I kept in the ground as well. One year I used leaves gathered over the trees using a cylinder of cheep fencing. The wood rotted a lot and the next year I used leaves only and it worked fine. If you start with dry material and then cover with a tarp, rotting probably wouldn’t be a problem, right?

I’d be worried about any freshish manure heating up and cooking the trees. Leaves should work as well if you gather them when they are dry. You just have to use a bait station with figs. I don’t know if voles would bother persimmon trees.

mine are 6ft tall and in full sun. nothing feeds on them here. i give them some composted chic. manure every couple years. last year i got about 20 husks that never developed a nut and i have plenty of catkins so i assumed it was a pollination issue.

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I haven’t any nuts yet either. Last year was my first with any catkins. I am still hopeful…

Alan, that´s a good point about any wet, damp material causing rot. Goats produce a blueberry shaped pellet - much like sheep and deer. Once it´s dried and pulverized by many hooves in heavy trafficked area, it makes for a very nice fluffy mulch. The trick will be keeping it dry over the course of the winter. Maybe a bottom layer of rocks to avoid the wicking action with direct contact with the soil.

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Gene – I think I have a fig tree with your name on it – a Paradiso acquired from a friend here in RI. Thanks for your contribution to fig growing.


Yes! I remember that variety very well, one of my favorites! Green skin and beautiful red interior, two crops, 2nd crop was late to ripen, that came from an elderly Italian-American gentleman in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Birds loved it too – unfortunately for me. I do miss my figs.

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It’s a delicious fig, but yes rather late.