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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.
 
 
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Here in the northeast most people think that spring is planting season.  I disagree completely.  Fall is actually a better time to plant trees and shrubs than spring. 

As long as you can source quality trees and plants, fall planted trees will do better than spring planted trees everything.  Despite what it looks like to the naked eye, trees are growing in the fall and winter.  Yes no leaves or branches are growing but those same trees are working hard growing their root structure. 

A fall planted tree will be ready to hit the ground running come spring time.  While a spring planted tree will still be recovering from transplant shock.  Yes it is hard to source qunaitity plant material in the late fall but if you can I would recommend you do it.  I have seen the advantages over and over again throughout the years. 


Check back soon for ways to find inexpensive tree sources!



 
 
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If you are reading this it is fair to say you probably love trees.  You probably also know how expensive it is to buy all the great trees that you want to plant at your local nursery or mail order nursery.  Luckily for us there are several ways to save money on your next tree planting.  Follow these easy steps and you will be sure to save hundreds on your next tree planting!   


Step number one, buy in bulk!  Many online tree nurseries will give substantial discounts for trees purchased in bulk.  An apple tree might cost you $30 or more but when you go to buy 5 or 10 they can drop our price point significantly to $20 or I've gotten some as low as $10.  Depending on the retailer you might even get better pricing.  These bulk discounts usually only apply to the same variety tree meaning you will likely have to buy 10 of those Gala apple trees to get that discount.      

Step number two is to visit your state's nursery.  If your wallet isn't ready to buy your trees in bulk you can always check out your state's nursery.  Chances are you have an in state or nearby state run nursery that grows seedling stock to sell to local landowners.  They will often sell native trees that fall into a few catorgies: aesthetics, forest products, soil protection, watershed protection,  wildlife habitat, and  windbreaks.

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=636779&mode=2   

Great deals can be had if you know where and when to look.  As far as the state nurseries go you can usually get the best availabitiy in the late fall or early spring.  I have found trees like American Persimmon, Paw Paw, walnut, oak and black locust for as cheap as 100 seedlings for $40.00.  Check your local state nursery and sale on mass plantings today!


Your third option is to plant your trees from seeds The next easy way to get cheap trees is to save seeds or buy seeds.  Growing trees from seed can be a great way to grow large quantities of trees in a very inexpensive way.  Just think, every time you eat an apple save the seed, stratify it in your fridge for the winter and plant it out come spring.  Find a local acorn or walnut tree.  Gather all the nuts you can find and plant them out.  Yes it is a bit more complicated than that but how do you think most trees reproduce in nature?  A seed is usually eaten, stored or forgotten, and buried and it sprouts and replicates.      

Finally using cuttings for your tree propagation can be very inexpensive.  Some plants and trees grow great from cuttings.  This is a cheap and easy way as long as you have tree stock available to take cuttings from.  Cuttings can be as simple as taking your summer or winter prunings from existing trees, adding some rooting horome, and planting them out.  What works best depends on what plant you are taking cuttings from but a lot of trees and plants can be rooted using cuttings.   


If you want to expand your plantings going forward try one or all of these methods and you will find yourself swimming in trees in no time.  Please feel free to post any comments and suggestions for any cheap tree sources you might know of.   






 
 
PictureTransplanting my seed grown Paw Paw's.
Paw Paw's are the Northeast's version of a tropical fruit tree.  Often called a custard apple the Paw Paw tree is native to eastern North America.  Despite being a native tree to the region not many people have heard of the Paw Paw tree.  Even fewer people have ever seen a paw paw tree or better yet tasted the sweet fruit it yields. 

To get the word out on Paw Paw's I decided two things were necessary.  First, I need to grow hundreds of paw paws trees and spread them across the region.  Being a farmer it goes without saying I need to be budget conscience in every farm enterprise I take on.  So the best way to grow paw paws on a budget is to grow them from seed.   

Secondly I will write a series of blog posts featuring the paw paw and all its glory.  Along the way I will be sure to feature photos of my progress and hopefully the successful transformation of my paw paw seeds into trees!

Be on the look out for upcoming Paw Paw Project posts in the near future!  

 

Peaches

07/15/2015

6 Comments

 
My fourth year peach trees are finally starting to bear, wow it is so exciting!  It always feels like forever when you are waiting for your first fruit on a tree you planted.   And the way folks move around these days,  most people aren’t in the same state, let alone the same house after 4 or 5 years.  But in the grand scheme of things 4 years isn’t very long to wait.  If managed properly a few fruit trees can provide decades of fruit production.  

If you haven't ever had the joy of biting into a freshly picked tree ripened peach I would highly recommend it.  One of my first memories growing up was picking peaches and eating them right in the field.  I don't remember where I was, how old I was, or even who I was with at the time.  The one thing I will never forget is the sweet, juicy explosion of flavor that no hard and dry grocery store peach could ever be confused of being.   
 
 
Of course not everything on the farm is all peachy all the time.  Unfortunately these apricot seedlings turned out to be DOA (dead on arrival).  I wish I would have known that before I wasted an afternoon and planted them all out. 

As far as the lesson goes, always make sure you source your plant material from a reputable nursery.  These were purchased from a well known mail order nursery and were warrantied for a year.  I was definitely bummed they didn't make it, but I did get credit for the trees that didn't make it.  I received a bunch of other plants on that same order from the same nursery and they are growing great. 

So always go with a reputable nursery that way if there is a issue with some of your plants you have some recourse.  It's always sad when trees you plant don't make it but at least this time I figured it out right away so I can still get replacements in the ground this year.