Q: Is it difficult to grow a pawpaw tree from seed?
A: It isn’t terribly hard but you’ll need to be patient. Keep a copy of “Moby Dick (click to buy)”on hand for down times. Ishmael will be your companion for a while. Start in fall with seed from a ripe pawpaw. Soak in room temperature water for five days. Remove from water and immediately plant the seeds six inches apart and two inches deep in a sunny spot. Cover with chicken wire to deter squirrels.
Mark the planting spot carefully: you won’t see anything emerging for ten months. Describe to your family what has happened in the first thirty-five chapters of Mr. Melville’s tome. This will keep you busy for a month. Finally, in July or August next year, you’ll notice small leafless stems coming up. Make a foot-high tent of chicken wire over the stems. Return to “Moby Dick” for another month until you finally see a few leaves. Go back to your bookmark and read five chapters each month for another year.
When the sprouts are a foot high you can transplant them, being sure to dig deeply enough to avoid damaging the tap root. Make the chicken wire tent taller, to guard against accidental mowing. By year three the pawpaw saplings will have lots of leaves and you can get back to Captain Ahab’s final adventure. In late spring of the fifth year, hang a raw chicken neck in the tree to attract pollinating flies. In October, close your book and recite “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” as you take a bite from a delicious pawpaw!