As I mentioned in earlier posts, fall is great for planting trees.
As fall lingers on and the days get shorter, one can't help but think about trees. If you are like most Americans you are probably spending at least part of your weekend raking leaves (more on why you might not have to do this fall chore coming soon).
Fall isn't only a great time to rake leaves but its also a great time to plant trees! Did you know that tree roots grow as long as the soil temperature is 40 degrees or above. This means that if you plant your trees in late fall they will have a jump start on all those spring planted trees come summer.
Each day in November I will be focusing on a great edible tree or shrub you can plant in your yard that will not only provide food for your family for years to come but it will also help beautify your home. Follow along for 30 days in November to learn more about some great edibles you can plant in your very own yard.
Fall is harvest time for Black Walnuts. Residing in the Northeast US means you probably don't have to travel far to find a stand of Black Walnut trees to harvest from.
Here Black Walnuts are all over the place, there is large heavy bearing trees on my farm and my neighbors adjoining property. Most people in today's society don't know that this greenish, blackish little ball is actually hiding a nut inside.
I am pretty sure my grandmother taught me how to harvest Black Walnuts. I have pictures of our stained hands in an old photo album, but other than that picture I have no recollection of it.
The process for harvesting your walnuts is easy. Just find a tree and harvest the mostly green husked balls underneath. That ends the easy part. Now its time to get your hands dirty.
After gathering a few buckets full of walnuts it's time to cut the husk from the shell. Be sure to wear gloves as the natural die in the husk will stain your hands and clothing. On a side note, black walnut husks are a great de-wormer for animals and livestock. And that die contained in the husk was originally used by native Americans to die everything from clothing, hides, and even hair.
Once your husks have been removed from the shells, set them up to dry on a drying rack or in onion sacks or any netting type bag will do. After drying them for 2-3 weeks your nuts are ready to crack. Black walnut shells are extremely hard and difficult to crack. I have used a vise or a hammer to crack them with mild success. A common walnut cracker will break when used on the Black Walnut's tough shell. I have even heard of people trying to drive over them with their cars in attempts to crack the shell. However you get it done the reward will be will worth it.
If you have any helpful tips on easy ways to crack your walnut shells be sure to post them in the comments!
Tree Seeds are now available for sale in the below varieties:
Japanese Red Maple: Bloodgood variety, showy ornamental/landscaping tree, leaves stay red most of the year
Paw Paw: improved variety, tree yields delicious custard/banana flavored fruit, North America's largest native fruit
Honey Locust: (unimproved) Edible seed pods, nitrogen fixing, makes dense hedge row/living fence, this variety does have spines, makes great perimeter fence/livestock barrier
Mazzard Cherry: Edible cherry, very limited pest pressure, improved breeding stock
Antonovka Apple: Cold Hardy, great tasting apple used for fresh easting and baking, Seed planted trees grows true to type unlike other apple varieties, full size heirloom apple tree mainstay in eastern Europe
American Elderberry: Improved variety, berries can be made into natural cough syrup, used in homemade wine, and edible flowers
Red Oak: Grown from improved stock, 80% bear within 3-5 years, great for livestock (pig) feed
Black Walnut: Improved native variety, chosen for large nut meat, shell is more difficult to crack than English walnut but well worth the trouble
Seeds come ready for cold stratification this winter. Above varieties are great for starting our own personal orchard and/or a great learning experience for your family.
Additional seeds to become available shortly, be sure to check back weekly.
Be sure to check back next fall when American Chestnut and Chinese Chestnut become available.