(HIT) – Growing your own food is a joy—especially when it’s harvest time. Fall is known primarily as the harvest season. But it is also a great time to plant fruit trees and late-season vegetable crops.
Trees and bushes planted in the autumn have a chance to set roots before cold winter weather arrives. A tree or bush planted in the fall is ready to burst forth into vigorous growth come springtime.
The fruit trees and vegetables mentioned here lend themselves well to planting during the autumn. So get your shovels ready, and start digging!
Paw Paw is America’s mystery fruit
The Paw Paw is an attractive ornamental tree with a distinctive look that will have your neighbors turning their heads as they try to identify it. Although a Paw Paw looks like a tropical tree, it is actually native to the eastern USA. But the little-known fruits are what make a Paw Paw tree a landscape star.
In spring, a Paw Paw produces one-inch-wide, purple, bell-shaped flowers. These delightful blooms develop into green fruits that mature to a yellow or brownish color in September or October. The fruit can best be described as an enormous berry 3-6 inches long that’s shaped like a stubby banana. Inside is the edible flesh that has a custard-like consistency. The unique taste, which must be experienced to be fully enjoyed, has been described as a cross between a mango, melon and banana with accents of vanilla or pineapple. Chilled Paw Paw fruit was a favorite of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson planted Paw Paw trees at Monticello, his home in Virginia.
Paw Paw trees can tolerate cold temperatures down to -25 degrees F. The mature trees reach up to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Paw Paw trees are available for $49.95 each from www.naturehills.com.
Autumn Comfort Food Garden produces a bounty of produce
The Autumn Comfort Food Garden, exclusively from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, is perfect to direct-sow now for fall garden abundance. Autumn Comfort Food Garden includes one packet each of Kestrel Baby Beets, Aspabroc Baby Broccoli, Gonzales Baby Cabbage, Red Ursa Kale, Regiment Spinach, Magenta Sunset Swiss Chard and De Milan Rouge Turnips. These varieties are everyone’s beloved, kitchen-cozy fall treats. The entire garden–approximately1,865 seeds–sells for $18.95 plus shipping from www.kitchengardenseeds.com.
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds offers a distinctive line of gourmet vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seeds from around the world. Carrying over 600 of the best heirlooms and exciting hybrids, Kitchen Garden Seeds is known for superior performance in both the garden and kitchen.
Request the 60-page 2014 Kitchen Garden Seeds catalog by calling 860-567-6086 or visiting www.kitchengardenseeds. Special 10%- to 20%-off collections are available for easy fall planting, like The Fall Salad Garden, The Fall Salad Treasure Chest or The Great Greens Bonanza. There is hands-on horticultural information online, as well as a cookbook of recipes from renowned U.S. chefs. Bulk seed pricing is available to market and chef gardeners on request.
Dwarf red bananas are a delicious treat
Small red bananas are popular in food markets because their size makes them an ideal healthy snack for children and adults with small appetites. The banana fruit is sweet with a creamy, delicious texture. Now you can grow ‘Dwarf Red’ bananas at home on your own banana tree. Musa ‘Dwarf Red’ will fruit when the plant is 6-8 feet tall, which usually takes a couple of years of growing.
Instead of the more traditional yellow skin, the skin of a Dwarf Red banana turns a deep red when the fruit is ripe enough to eat. This banana variety is cold hardy in USDA Zone 9—and perhaps even in Zone 8 with some cold-weather protection. In colder growing zones, plant ‘Dwarf Red’ in a large pot that can be moved outdoors during the summer and brought indoors during the colder months. ‘Dwarf Red’ banana leaves are a fun culinary addition to barbecues, and they can be used to wrap fish or meat for cooking. Plants in a 4-inch pot are $19.95 from Logee’s, www.logees.com or (888) 330-8038.