By Margaret Frane:
Our field trip in August was to Alex Silber’s Papaya Tree Nursery (PTN), a truly unique nursery started by his parents more then 20 years ago. The PTN approach to choosing viable fruit to grow has been to research the best possible specimens with the most remarkable flavor and growing potential for their Granada Hills location. Over the years they have introduced many spectacular varieties of rare fruit trees to sell to the public. But they only sell plants that have proved to produce and grow well at their own nursery.
As we toured the grounds, Alex spoke about the trees planted on the property. We started in the front yard with allspice trees full of fruit, kei apples and jujubes also bursting with fruit. He showed us curry leaf trees they used to sell, but that they cannot currently sell because of a moratorium on citrus. (Alex explained that curry leaf trees are related to citrus.) His caper bushes, planted around the edge of the property, were also full of ripe buds and he noted that his mother, Tina, had a great recipe for brining them. PTN developed a spectacular mango tree which they named P.T.N. # 1. Bruce Blavin has been growing this mango for 4 years with great success. Now they have the P.T.N. # 2 ( a mango tree with multiple fruiting seasons), which they plan to release soon.
We saw a number of experimental trees Alex was in the process of testing for future sales. There was wax jambu, green sapote, a special paw paw, and miracle fruit. Alex talked about his black sapote, which had the biggest fruit anyone had ever seen. He had lucuma in 5 gallon containers, that already had well-developed fruit. Among the other remarkable specimens Alex showed us were canistel, star fruit, and sapodilla trees in containers, also filled with fruit. Alex was gracious and informative, handling all kinds of questions about soil, fertilizer, pest control and watering these special varieties of plants to increase your success rate at home. At the end of the tour there were many people arranging to purchase plants to take home. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Alex’s Papaya Tree Nursery, you are missing a fabulous educational and rewarding experience. Call Alex at (818) 363-3680 or (818) 359-2910 to arrange a visit.