Thursday, March 5, 2015

Today at the 326 Market: Soapberries, PawPaws and more!

We had a good week last week with friends driving all the way up from Lake County to visit the booth, as well as new friends stopping by after finding this blog.

Many of my trees still look like sticks, yet this is a good time to plant.

Soapberry Trees

One of the most exciting additions to my nursery is the Florida soapberry tree, known as both Sapindus saponaria and Sapindus marginatus.

This hard-to-find native tree is remarkable. It's attractive, drought-tolerant, and it ACTUALLY GROWS SOAP.

Soap on a tree!

The fruit, sometimes called "soap nuts," are loaded with saponins and can be used to wash laundry, your hands, or anything else you might use soap for. They're even sold commercially.

Photo credit Lisa Brewster

To make this soap there's no rendering fat, using lye or anything else: you just take out the seeds, dry the fruit and they're ready to go.

The University of Florida states this tree's range as being in zone 10. This is false: there are large trees growing quite well up in Putnam county. It goes dormant and sails through the cold. My bet is that they're a solid zone 8 tree, judging by the towering specimens I saw.

The downside of this tree is that you need to buy at least two of them for pollination, since some are males, some females, and some hermaphroditic.

The soapberry trees I have for sale are already a few years old and about 5-7' tall. They're $25.00 each, but if you buy enough plants and/or say nice things about my new hat, I might give you a discount.

Pawpaw Trees

Though I don't have all the cool types of pawpaws that my friend Terri carries in her nursery, I do have two types for sale: Asimina triloba and Asimina parviflora. (NOTE: these are not papaya trees - they are the deciduous tree or shrub that's native to North America.)

Both varieties of pawpaw have edible fruit and both are very hard to find. I've spent a lot of time sprouting pawpaw seeds, so I know why they're hard to find. The don't transplant well once planted in the field, the germination takes a long time plus it requires very fresh seeds, they don't grow from cuttings...

...but they make a delicious fruit, so it's all worth it.

Photo credit Wendell Smith
I'm going to plant some pawpaws in the shady part of my front yard food forest, since this is a fruit tree that actually likes some shade.

Asimina parviflora is probably better adapted to Florida than A. triloba; however, its fruit are half the size. I'd plant both for the best chances of yearly fruit. (And don't let the swallowtails eat all the foliage, unless you prefer butterflies to food.)

Beyond pawpaws and soapberries, here's some more of what I'll be bringing to the market today:

Florida Pineapples
Red Dwarf Bananas
Native Persimmons
Natal plums
Sassafras trees
Black pepper
Wild blueberries (both Highbush and V. darrowii)

Those are all coming to the 326 Market with me this afternoon, along with other bits and pieces.

The Google map for the 326 Community Market is here, and their Facebook page is here (with lots more photos and info).

My prices are good and my gardening advice is free.

Beyond what I carry, there are also folks selling fresh vegetables, baked goods, handcrafts, recycled pallet wood furniture, chickens, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), crafts, ornamental plants, homemade birdhouses and more.

It's a great group of people and very friendly... the way a local market should be.

Come on down!

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At March 5, 2015 at 9:26 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

Do you have any dwarf mulberries?

At March 5, 2015 at 9:44 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

I'm almost out - sold one in Gainesville, sold one today. There are probably one or two left, then I'll have them again in June or so.

At March 5, 2015 at 9:44 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

And, BTW, missed you last night.

At March 6, 2015 at 8:01 AM , Anonymous Andi said...

I was disappointed to miss you, too. Could I drive down today or tomorrow and get them?

At March 6, 2015 at 11:42 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

I'm tied this weekend - Monday afternoon or Tuesday would work.

At March 6, 2015 at 1:48 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

I work until after dark. Will you be at the downtown farmers market in Gainesville next Wednesday? If so, I can meet you there- I have some fun stuff for you, too.

At March 7, 2015 at 7:07 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Yes - I'll be there. Every week through the fall unless my van breaks down or something.


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