The native american persimmon is getting more attention.  This tree is happy to live at the edge of your yard or in a sunny or filtered light situation in the woods.  The sweet fall fruits are enjoyed by most wild animals; raccoons, opossums, fox, coyote, etc.  I suspend a net under the trees to collect the fruit for myself.  This keeps the e-coli and debris off of the food for safe consumption.  The fruit is astringent and unpalatable until after the first frost but if left to develop and mature they are delicious.  I am experimenting with a persimmon/apple hard cider.

England’s Orchard and Nursery in McKee, KY have been collecting varieties from local plantsmen for years.  Check out their offerings on their website or visit the nursery.

Organic vs. Conventional Fruit Growing

There is constant conversation about the two methods of fruit production. I will address tree fruits in the Ohio River Valley.  First, ask yourself why you want to grow fruit.  If for personal use, I would consider organic methods.  You can store, use or sell any extra blemish free fruit and cut around damaged fruit and press or can the remainder.  By planting disease resistant varieties or old favorites with a healthy reputation, you can get by with few sprays of OMRI approved products or no sprays at all.

The next option is a combination:  use only a few early season chemical applications and then practice good observation and biodynamic methods.

The third option is to follow the OSU agricultural program which involves many chemical applications with a very high yield of perfect fruit.  Commercial growers choose this option because they could not produce enough clean fruit to stay in business with the other options.  A production orchard needs over 90% pack out fruit to stay in business.

Ohio has too many issues with pest pressure and especially late season fungal problems to make commercial organic production a viable option.  However the back yard grower can and should consider the organic approach.

I have attached links to a few studies showing if chemicals appear in fruit or juice.–90-of-wines-21199/

2016 Pruning Workshop


Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop at Hayfields Orchard


Fruit Tree Workshops for Home and Community Gardeners

In February the Hayfields Orchard will host a workshop on how to prune and successfully grow fruits in our region. With Hayfields Orchard’s diverse selection of fruit tree varieties, grown on a variety of rootstocks, it is an ideal location for the workshop.


The workshop is cosponsored by Cincinnati Area Organic Fruit Growers and the Turner Farm Community Garden Program and taught by David K Koester, retired UK Extension Campbell County Agent, with the assistance of Hayfield orchardist Marsha Lindner and Peter Huttinger, Turner Farm Community Garden Program.


Fruit Trees: Pruning, Care and Selecting Varieties

Saturday, February 27   1:00 – 3:30

Instructor: David K Koester

An onsite demonstration and instruction in pruning fruit trees in the Hayfields Orchard. The workshop will also cover the care of and selection of varieties of fruit trees suited for our region. The workshop will emphasize sustainable organic biological practices with an explanation of desired outcomes. In addition to organic sprays and treatments, conventional approaches to orchard management will be reviewed.

Fee: $10.



Hayfields Orchard

8835 Old Indian Hill Road

Cincinnati, OH 45243


How to Register:

Workshops are open to the public, however they are limited to 25 participants so please enroll early. To register please contact:

Marsha Lindner

Hayfields Orchard


Proceeds from the workshops will benefit the Bhutanese Refugee Community Garden initiatives at the Franciscan and Northgate Community Gardens.




IMG_0539IMG_0546Gooseberries are small fruits that are underused in our home landscapes.  They are packed with vitamin C and are wonderful for jams, jellies and cooking.  I have grown them in shrub form in the past but am now trying them in single and 3-column cordons. This makes picking easier around the sharp thorns. The cordon method is popular in Europe because of their smaller gardens.  Gooseberries prefer part sun.

The variety ‘Pixwell’ is on left.  On right is a 2nd year ‘Tixia’ cordon.

Pickled Green Walnuts

I have been wanting to try this for a few years but the key is to remember to harvest the young green walnuts.  They grow quickly.  I just harvested mine in the 2nd week of June in Cincinnati.

There are many recipes but I am following one from  I picked 2 lbs of nuts.  Using rubber gloves, prick each with a pin about 8 times.  I then covered them with a brine of salt and water.  I will change the water in 5 days and add another brine.

Photo of day 1.


Raspberries – Autumn Britten

After giving up on growing raspberries for a number of years I planted 24 Autumn Britten in 2013. I chose this variety because they would bear after the Japanese Beetles passed through our area, around mid to late summer. This year the plants produced a huge crop of well formed berries from August until the mid October frost. I picked about 2 quarts per week, freezing most of the berries to make jam at a later date. They were excellent for jam because of their small, soft seed. I usually mill out most of the seeds when I make jam but this really wasn’t necessary because of the seed texture. Other than top dressing the plants with some composted manure in the early spring, I didn’t apply any other sprays. I did have stink bugs on the plants in the late summer but they only damaged a few of the fruits.

I hope readers who live the in SW Ohio area will share the names of fruits that have performed well for them.

2015 – Looking Ahead by Evaluating the 2014 Season

The SE Ohio Region was hit hard by fire blight in 2014.  Let’s start with that problem and examine ways to improve our chances of success this year. Fire blight is a terrible issue when moisture and temperature levels coincide.  Since we never know when that combination will happen, we need to be pre-emptive in our organic spray program.  We also need to note which varieties and rootstocks are most resistant and suseptable.  I have provided a good link that explains the steps that are needed to deal with this disease.