The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Persimmons in permaculture

Persimmons in the snowBack when every yard in the Deep South had a hog butchering station, ordinary farmers used to practice permaculture.  They planted persimmons in their pastures to feed their pigs, cows, and horses, and the smartest farmers hand-picked persimmon varieties so that they ripened continuously from August to February.  Since no livestock --- even goats and sheep --- like the leaves, persimmons can be planted directly into pastures with no protection.  Can you imagine seven months of free livestock feed growing on your hillside?

As always, I'm looking for plants to include in our chickens' forest pasture, and I think persimmons might be a good addition.  The downside of persimmons, in my opinion, is that the fruits are nearly completely sugar, with only about 3% protein by dry weight.  However, my experience with sugary fruits lying on the ground is that they attract Yellow jacket on a persimmonnearly their own weight in insects, a chicken's favorite food.  Even in the winter, insects seem to show up if they've got something to eat, and fresh food of any sort is highly appreciated by my flock during the cold season.

This week's lunchtime series highlights the most interesting and useful facts about persimmons, drawn out of Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture, by J. Russell Smith, Organic Orcharding: A Grove of Trees to Live In, by Gene Logsdon, and Two Promising Fruit Plants for Northern Landscapes, by E. Goodell (the last of which you can download by clicking on the link.)  It's amazing what delicious reading material turns up when I take the time to go through my bookcase!

Our homemade chicken waterer keeps water poop-free in pastures, coops, or tractors.

This post is part of our Persimmons lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We have a persimmon tree near the house that grows and produces well in the understory over a long period. The fruit output and flavor are amazing. Here in Alabama you do have to bushhog fields each year or the persimmon seedlings will take over. (That might be a good thing for a pasture garden versus a hay field.) You have to admire a plant that is so successful in spreading its progeny. When I find fruits that have been laying on the ground a while they are often covered with ants, but I've never seen any other insects on them. You'd think something that sweet would be covered with flying insects.
Comment by Lisa Tue Nov 2 12:02:50 2010

Any chance you'd mail me a dozen seeds or so from your productive tree? I'm on the search for long-producing varieties! Email me ( if you're interested.

I'll bet ants would make a tasty, high protein snack for my chickens... :-)

Comment by anna Tue Nov 2 14:45:46 2010
Well darn it - I just threw out a bunch of seeds last week! Our fruiting period was from August through about a week ago. We don't have any still on the tree but let me look around. I will be glad to send you plenty of seeds if I can find some.
Comment by Lisa Tue Nov 2 15:43:09 2010
That would make my day if you could find some seeds! The early fruiting period is the one I don't have a seed source for yet. I've found some good mid-season fruits, and know of a late season persimmon. If you do find seeds, please keep them moist --- they're supposed to germinate badly if they dry out completely. We'll send you a Walden Effect t-shirt in exchange (and my undying gratitude. :-) )
Comment by anna Tue Nov 2 16:28:23 2010

Good morning,

In November 2015, I bought a crate of Persimmons and was very surprised to find a large oblong black seed inside one of the Persimmons. To make my story short, I planted it and it now has 4 leaves on it. I was now going to transplant it into a larger pot. Good idea? Any idea what the name of this Persimmon would be?

I live in Montreal, Quebec and wanted to know if our weather here (summer- winter) will allow my to plant my Persimmon outside? How long should I kept it growing indoors in the pot before considering planting it outside? Also, if anyone has done extra seeds that they are willing to send me, that would be great.

Thanking you in advance

Comment by David K Sun Feb 21 09:33:07 2016

David --- I'm assuming you bought Asian persimmons? I've been gifted a few seeds from usually seedless Asian persimmons, and I wasn't able to get any to sprout, so you're doing well!

Unfortunately, I doubt the tree will survive outside in Montreal. I bought two of the most cold hardy varieties of Asian persimmons, and they still die back to the ground most years here in zone 6. I'm assuming you're colder than us, so that's likely a no-go for you.

Comment by anna Sun Feb 21 12:48:42 2016

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