The Nuttery : Volume 13 Number 3 (1994)

In this Issue...

The Winter Meeting '95

Come Wednesday, January 5, 1995, this year's winter meeting fires up at 7:30 PM in the Citizen Building at 1101 Baxter Road in Ottawa's west end (near the Greenbank/Queensway exit). The winter meeting is the first ECSONG event of the calendar year. This year's theme is "starting nut trees from seed; ways and means". Ernie Kerr has methods for indoors which he will share with us. Ted Cormier will talk about selecting the best nuts for the most success. Nuts for seed will be available at the meeting.

As a side show to the main theme, you can expect a report or two. Hank Jones will tell us the results of the first Nut Culture Workshop in eastern Ontario. Ralph McKendry will bring us up to date on the Oak Valley Plantation, now thriving near Winchester Springs. All things being equal, Bob Scally will have a words of wisdom for us as well.

This is the first opportunity for us to pay our 1995 dues ($15/annum), as Art Read, Treasurer, will have a table set up for this purpose. Art will also offer the ECSONG cookbook "Recipes in a Nutshell" and its manual "A Nut Growers Manual for Eastern Ontario".

This is the ECSONG event where each of us has an opportunity to show off our own nut-related accomplishments. Bring your nut artworks and crafts to display in the exhibit area that surrounds the meeting floor. There will be a food table set up for everyone keen to prepare nut-based recipes for us to test and enjoy. Do not be shy - bring your creations to the meeting! Alcon Welding and Small Engine Repair will be bringing its now-famous "Nut Huller" to show. The Seed Source will be showing a broad selection of seed. Hopefully, other commercial firms will recognize the benefits of showing their wares at this meeting.

For more information, please contact Ralph McKendry, ECSONG Chair.

An instant nut grove for you?

Are you an aspiring nut grower, and maybe a little impatient to have your own trees fully grown and productive?

You may recall the story by Bernice Noblitt about how she and her late husband, Harvey, grew the best nut grove in the national capital area. Bernice is preparing to sell her home. These nut trees are important to her and to the region, and she naturally would like to ensure they survive and thrive. She will be seeking a buyer who truly appreciates the trees and will continue to tend and harvest them in the years to come.

Are you the person she seeks? If you are, please call the Nuttery Editor for further instructions.

An Eastern Ontario "Supernut" Contest?

Nut culture in eastern Ontario has been growing rapidly since the late 1970's, launched by the establishment of the Eastern Chapter of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (ECSONG). Even this rapid growth further accelerated with the start of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest, Inc. (EOMF) and ECSONG joint Nut Tree Culture Project. However, to date much of the plantings have been either wholesale local nuts or cultivars from warmer climes.

Ernie Grimo recounts that in the 1930's the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) of the USA sought to find superior nuts already growing in the region that could be further developed and propagated. The plan was to kick-start the faster development of desirable varieties and cultivars from specimens already adapted to the region. The NNGA organized a contest to encourage folks to seek out superior specimens and submit their finds to a contest. An expert panel judged the submissions, choosing the best. As he story goes, the contest was so successful that some of the nuts found were already so good they immediately became named varieties that are still grown. Others became the start material for long lines of development. Ernie suggested that such a contest here might succeed in speeding up the development of superior varieties and cultivars suited to eastern Ontario.

A proposal to plan such a contest has been submitted to the Nut tree Culture Project for support. Should the proposal be accepted, a contest inviting interested people to submit candidate specimens could be underway by fall harvest time 1995. For more information, contact Ted Cormier, Project Manager, Nut Tree Culture Project or Hank Jones, Editor, The Nuttery.

The more things change... Here is a reprint of an article published in the Canadian Homes and Gardens of August, 1932...

Nut Culture - 1932

By J. A Neilson (Formerly of the Ontario Department of Agriculture; now of the Horticulture Department, Michigan State College, East Lansing, Michigan)

IN RECENT years keen interest has been shown in Canada in the development of manufacturing industries and in the culture of new crops of economic value. A notable example of the latter may be seen in the development of the tobacco industry in Norfolk County and to a lesser extent, the culture of soy beans throughout the southern part of Ontario. These two crops have already added millions of dollars to the wealth of the province, and will doubtless occupy a more important position in the future.

The culture of nut trees is another promising field which should occupy the serious attention of people in the milder parts of Ontario at least. A small beginning has already been made at a few points in the province, and the results indicate the possibilities of growing the best varieties of nut trees on a more extensive scale than has hitherto been done. In the Niagara district and in Essex County there are several English walnut trees that have produced enough nuts to supply their owners with all they require and in some cases yield a cash return. There are also a considerable number of black walnut trees which were top-grafted with scions of named varieties of English walnuts that are now bearing fine nuts. Mr. J. B. Fairbairn, deputy minister of agriculture, Mr. Howard Smith, Winona, Mr. George Corbett, Port Dalhousie, and Miss Carrie McCall, Simcoe, have trees which were top- grafted by the writer in 1925, and which bore good nuts in the season of 1931. The good record of these grafted trees suggests the possibility of turning to profitable account by grafting with superior kinds a large number of seedling black walnut trees that are now only of very ordinary value.

Mr. W. R. Reck, director of the Experimental Farm at Ridgetown, has a considerable number of fine Chinese chestnut trees that were planted in 1927 and which have made rapid growth since. Some of these tree bore excellent nuts in 1930 and again in 1931. The success of these trees is especially encouraging, as the fine native chestnut is doomed to extinction by chestnut blight. This disease has already killed thousands of trees in southern Ontario, and it is only a matter of time before all sweet chestnut trees will be gone. An extensive programme of planting the best strains of blight-resistant Chinese and Japanese chestnuts should, therefore, be undertaken at once to replace the fine native chestnut. The Japanese walnut in its best strains and the heartnut are also worthy of extensive plantings. Good seedling trees of these kinds are now bearing at several places in the provinces, and a few grafted trees are also producing excellent nuts. ln 1927, the writer grafted some trees in his garden at Guelph and these trees bore several fine nuts last year. There is a Japanese walnut tree growing on the farm of Mr. Harold English, at Chatham, that is one of the best of its kind in America. This tree has made an exceptional growth and has borne nuts since it was four years old. In 1931, the ninth year, it produced nearly one bushel of first class nuts, and the indications are that it will bear a larger crop this season.

Just recently, while on a trip to Ontario to procure scion wood of superior nut trees, for the Michigan State College, the writer saw a large pecan tree near Essex on the farm of Mr. George Bunn. This tree bore a quantity of fully ripened nuts of excellent quality during the past season. Mr. Lloyd Vanderburg, Simcoe, also has several pecan trees that bore good nuts in 1931. This is probably a record for Ontario, as, so far as the writer knows, there are no other pecan trees that have ripened nuts in Eastern Canada. It is not intended to create the impression that pecans should be extensively planted in Southern Ontario for the production of nut, but there should be no hesitation in planting the best hardy varieties as a rare ornamental that may occasionally bear good nuts. There is much more hope in growing some of the superior strains of hickory and pecan-hickory hybrids in the Lake Erie Counties. The best of these hybrids combine the thin shell of the pecan with the good quality and hardiness of the shag-bark hickory, and should, therefore, be better suited to Ontario than the pecan.

The occurrence of good trees of the various native and introduced kinds in Southern Ontario indicates the possibilities of growing a large quantity of first class nuts, provided the best varieties are planted and reasonably good cultural methods followed. It should be easily possible for people on the farms of Southern Ontario to produce all the nuts required for their family use and have some to sell.

Just how long it will take the people of Ontario to realize their possibilities of growing good nut trees it is difficult to say, but they should not forget for one moment that the people in other countries are alive to their opportunities in this line. In the northern United States there is a keen interest being manifested in the culture of hardy nut trees, and in British Columbia, thanks to Gellathy Brothers and a few other enterprising people, there is a decided interest being shown in this phase of horticulture. If the people of Ontario choose to send out several million dollars a year for edible nuts, that, of course, is their own business, but if they are really in earnest in their desire to become more self-contained, they should get busy now and plant nut trees by the thousands before it is too late.

Oak Valley Plantation Committee Project Proposals

weed control measures

TITLE: 95-01: Demonstration and testing of weed control measures in a plantation of young nut trees at Oak Valley.

OBJECTIVE: To utilize the plantation at Oak Valley as a site for testing and demonstrating various approaches to controlling vegetation competing with the nut trees being established there through the combined efforts of the South Nation River Conservation Authority (SNRCA), the Eastern Chapter of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (ECSONG) and the Eastern Ontario Nut Culture Project of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest Inc. (EOMF) Program.

THE SITE: The plantation area which is owned by SNRCA comprises about 7 acres between Baldwin Road, Mountain Township and a channel of the Nation River. Some acres on the east side were planted to white pine 10 to 12 years ago, the midsection includes a fenced seedling nursery about 30 feet x 70 feet in size, the ruins of two barn foundations and the main entrance road. The remaining half of the property is largely idle land.

SOIL: The soil is a heavy clay loam of good depth and generally well drained and largely free of stones. Although spring flooding is common nearby this site has not flooded since channelization was carried out.

WEEDS: The sod is heavy and laced with quack grass. Tall sturdy weeds are prevalent: wild parsnip, goldenrod, nettles, lambs quarters, shepherds purse as well as bindweed and wild cucumber vines. Woody weeds in the form of Manitoba maple saplings and suckers have been persistently troublesome in the east section - downwind from a dozen or more mother trees removed in 1992.

IN SUMMARY: The Oak Valley Plantation seems well suited as a site for testing and demonstrating weed control methods because:

IT IS REQUESTED, therefore, that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) consider using the Oak Valley site for weed-control studies to be designed and managed by MNR personnel who would maintain a level of liaison with SNRCA and ECSONG to ensure that the objectives of all three organizations continued to be mutually respected.

student-related activities

TITLE: 95-02 Outreach - Student-related activities

OBJECTIVE: To involve students of primary and secondary schools in the area in learning about and participating in nut tree culture activities based on the Oak Valley Plantation.

BACKGROUND: The South Nation River Conservation Authority (SNRCA) has carried out some joint activities with senior grades at the Public School in South Mountain and more recently arranged for some Grade XI and XII students from Osnabruck to spend a day at Oak Valley tending, planting and learning about nut trees. These students were each given black walnut seedlings as well as walnut and other seed nuts for planting at home or school.

PROSPECTS: When the nursery is in full operation at Oak Valley it is anticipated that there will be a good supply of hardy, native nut tree seedlings for distribution and planting in the upper Nation River valley. School groups, as well as Guides, Scouts and other youth organizations could become agents to advance the objective of increasing the representation of nut-bearing trees about the farms, villages and roadsides of this area. Families might be encouraged to celebrate certain milestones of a child's progress by planting a nut tree to mark the occasion. Thus child and tree could grow in stature together.

Aside from educational and conservation aspects of such activities, many children would be enriched through acquiring a lifelong interest in trees and the world of Nature generally. Thus they would grow into the kind of people needed to perpetuate tree- growing efforts which by their nature must span adjacent generations.

IT IS SUGGESTED, therefore, that SNRCA plan and budget for intensified and extended school-related programs and also that it seize the opportunity to involve ECSONG in these activities. Especially during spring and fall planting seasons ECSONG could help with seeds and seedlings, planting and tending instruction both hands-on and printed, and by setting up nut tree "nature walks" with associated labelling in the plantation and nearby mature woodlot. It is expected that teachers would have students provide reports on the knowledge and experience gained through these activities. ECSONG and/or SNRCA might even consider some type of recognition for the student(s) who, based on teachers' judgment, provided the outstanding report.

community base

TITLE: 95-03 Outreach - Community-based

OBJECTIVE: To increase awareness of nut trees and promote their propagation and conservation in the upper Nation Valley through involving community leaders and organizations in the process.

BACKGROUND: The growing influence of the "green" movement on public and political attitudes would be expected to make such initiatives acceptable and even popular. Mature nut trees are now rare in areas such as Oak Valley where they were once abundant enough to support a hardwood logging trade. Nation Valley soil and climate is favourable to a wide variety of nut-bearing trees in addition to old natives like oak, butternut, hickory and beech.

PROSPECTS: Area service clubs, farm organizations, councils and other groups could be offered speakers, demonstrations and printed material to promote (1) planting and (2) conserving nut trees.

(1) Planting - Nut trees including those above, as well as black walnut, chestnut, heartnut, hackberry and ginkgo, can be advocated as shade trees for roadside, street or garden - pointing out that many produce edible nuts and valuable wood, grow at rates comparable to maples, elms and birch and have less risk of disease. They have few bad habits such as suckers, shallow roots, "dirty" catkins or brittle branches. Though some benefit from pruning early in life, few need much shaping later. However, mature walnuts, both black and white (butternut), produce a root toxin called juglone which inhibits certain plants so these trees are unsuitable for planting close to vegetable or flower gardens. Grasses and evergreens are unaffected by this toxin.

(2) Conserving - There are hundreds of nut trees, from a few years to over 25 years of age, in roadsides and hedgerows in the Nation River valley. They need to be identified and marked for preservation then released, thinned or pruned as needed and spared from a death by herbicides or saws. Such trees are obviously well adapted to the climate and soil, so unless very badly located should be preserved and helped to mature into great trees to grace the landscape for generations to come. ECSONG might undertake the locating, marking and recording of these young nut trees in its Inventree System and SNRCA the thinning, shaping and releasing (with agreement of the municipality). Local community groups might be found which would "adopt" sections of roadsides bearing salvaged and/or planted trees.


TITLE: 95-04 Interplanting of nut trees in openings of SNRCA conifer plantations near Oak Valley

OBJECTIVE: To increase the proportion of nut-bearing trees in the upper Nation valley and in the process diversify the species in planted forest tracts there with ultimate prospects of increased aesthetic and recreational appeal.

PROCESS: Survival rates of conifers planted along the Nation River seems fairly good considering the heavy soil. However, it doesn't approach 100% so there are always gaps which are usually filled by replacement conifers.

Since we anticipate a plethora of black walnut and butternut seedlings in the Oak Valley nursery it is suggested that some be used as replacement stock in one or more of the nearby conifer plantations. These deciduous nut trees benefit from conifers as nurse trees and should do well if grass and weed competition is controlled. With pruning and shaping of young nut trees an ultimately valuable crop of veneer and saw logs could be realized. Meanwhile, nut crops and pleasant shade would be enjoyed.

PROPOSAL: It is suggested that some test plantings be carried out in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996 as a joint activity of the South Nation River Conservation (SNRCA) and ECSONG. Black walnut would be the favoured species because of better form, more valuable wood and the current threat posed by butternut canker. SNRCA would prepare the sites and do the planting and ECSONG would provide seedlings, tending, monitoring and record-keeping and prepare progress reports on the test plantings. A goal of 25 trees planted per year for three years should yield data needed to judge success under varying conditions of moisture, soil and competition.

Should the tests prove promising and more extensive plantings were to be undertaken the subsequent role of ECSONG would become limited to providing a source of seedlings of known provenance.

It is requested that SNRCA give consideration to this proposal and notify ECSONG regarding their level of interest in joining in a series of test plantings under conditions similar to those outlined above.

Oak Valley Plantation Committee 94/12/08

Oak Valley Plantation - 1994 Year-end Report

GENERAL - Though progress is seldom as fast or easy as desired it has been sufficient to enable us to complete Period I (1991-1995) of our Vision 20/20 master plan on schedule. The site survey, boundary fence and gate, entrance lane, nursery facilities are installed infrastructure elements while the north boundary shelter belt, the access trails in Section East, plantings in 66% of available nut- tree sites in Section East, preparation of soil maps and tree maps are in process but not completed.

More and more trees translates into requirements for more and more tending which translates into need for better and less labour- intensive methods for controlling competing vegetation. When moving white pines by backhoe from section East for the shelterbelt, trees were selected with a view to widening access trails enough for small tractors and mowers. Most nut tree planting sites will now be within sight of access trails - which should help avoid neglect and ease tending.

Rodent damage to pines as well as deciduous plantings has been serious in 1994 as it was in the previous year. Hopefully the peak of the population cycle of meadow voles will have passed by next winter but we can't let our guards down (as it were). In fact plastic tree guards are often ineffective since these creatures can climb up on the snow as it accumulates and may strip off bark several feet above grade. Chemical repellent will be applied in December to many of the more important or vulnerable trees.

PLANTINGS - Again this year plantings were augmented by Ted Cormier through our participation in the Nut Culture Project, jointly of ECSONG and the Eastern Ontario Model Forest. Most plantings were in Section East but a start was made on a nut pine "orchard" planned to occupy the area in the lee of the shelterbelt.

Only three of some nine bur oaks moved from nearby ditches to line the new entrance lane survived the dry summer. This poor result is blamed on trying to move trees that were too large and too widely rooted plus an inability to provide water when most needed.

Four or so of the shelterbelt pines which had been badly girdled died during the summer and were replaced this fall when the row of pines in the shelterbelt was being completed. In that part of the row between pond and fence inaccessible to the backhoe a dozen or more smaller white pines from Ralph's Calumet Island forest were installed early in October. The South Nation River Conservation Authority will plant cedars next spring to thicken the belt further. Also in October 10 or 12 fine young red oaks were provided and planted along the riverbank by Josée and Martin from the South Nation River Conservation Authority (SNRCA). Three foot by three foot squares of carpet mulch were installed - which is about the minimum size needed to keep taller weeds far enough away to reduce competition for light and nutrients.

NURSERY - Scores of oak, walnut and chestnut seedlings were moved from germination beds into the south end of the nursery. There a semi-shaded area was established to shelter seedlings and very young trees. Pine nuts sowed there failed to germinate for some mysterious reason, but we'll try again since we want to be able to "grow our own". The north half of the nursery will remain fallow pending effective weed control.

Early in November all remaining 2-year old black walnut seedlings were removed - some used to replace lost trees in Section East and the remainder divided among four students from Osnabruck High School who worked and learned at Oak Valley for a day early in November. They were also given an assortment of seed nuts to plant in their home surroundings. We look forward to seeing copies of their reports on these activities. Initial feedback was very positive and reinforces the idea of developing outreach activities in area schools, notably the primary school in South Mountain where the Authority has contacts.

SOIL/COVER CROPS - Section West was mowed once in 1994 by Mac Saunders' Bush Hog rotary mower. The portion of the field disced in 1993 returned mustard first, then an eclectic mix of weeds and grasses replaced the original heavy sod of grass. Silvia Strobl, an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) forester specializing in cover crops and weed control, visited Oak Valley and pointed out that in terms of biodiversity and competitiveness, weeds are preferable to grasses in plantations. She indicated that the Oak Valley plantation might qualify as an experimental/demonstration site for projects she would supervise.

In late summer Ernie and Ralph used ATV and flail mower to open paths through six foot high weeds on the access trails in Section East. To ensure that this can be done better and more often in future levelling of these trails is essential. This was done early in December - effectively using up the heel of our budget from the South Nation River Conservation Authority. The rubble-stone foundation of the western-most ruins was levelled for a future parking area in order to take advantage of having a small bulldozer on site.

SNRCA LIAISON - Due to her increasing responsibilities in the South Nation River Conservation Authority, Josée Brizard indicated this summer that she would have to relinquish her role as liaison person for Oak Valley. She named as her successor, Martin Czarski, and brought him there on at least two occasions to familiarize him with the plantation and our aspirations for its development. There is every indication that we will continue to enjoy and profit from good cooperation with the Authority through Martin as we have for the past several years through Josée.

OTHER - There were no takers on our offer of allotments plots for landless would-be nut growers. Obviously an idea whose time had not yet come.

Unlike the Baxter project, Oak Valley has no on-site facilities or personnel to help meet maintenance needs so there is an increased requirement for Chapter members to help. Since membership on our Committee may help to reinforce participation, some additions might be considered. Of course, there are some - including both Jones families, the Colletts and Ted Cormier who while not on the Committee, have been particularly effective and reliable and we are very grateful for this. May it long continue, because while much has been accomplished, much more remains to be done.

By late November, two 1994 "infrastructure" projects aimed at facilitating weed control and the tending of plantings had not been completed, i.e., smoothing and widening of the access trails in Section East and levelling of the foundations of a former barn.

Checking with South Nation River Conservation (SNRCA) indicated some hundreds of dollars remained in the Oak Valley budget which would be lost unless spent by year end. So arrangements were made for Adri Verhey to bring the needed machinery to complete these projects on December 1st. He and son duly arrived at 9 AM with a small bulldozer and backhoe, the latter of which, though it was not expected, soon proved needed.

Since it was unprecedented to have a bulldozer on site it seemed logical to start with a straightforward task for which this machine was well suited - levelling the barn foundation. This was a jumble of fieldstone and some limestone chunks except for a cap of broken concrete floor on the northern half where the grade was a foot or two higher. The bulldozer handled the south section readily and also the removal of the concrete slabs from the north section. However, on attempting to scrape deeper the blade kept bouncing off huge boulders 2 to 4 feet in diameter and tightly arranged to form a base for the foundation.

Questions about where these could have come from and how they could have been moved there a century ago were debated only briefly before facing the more urgent question of what to do about them now. It seemed a Hobson's choice whether to attempt moving them out of the way thus incurring additional costs or just leave the mess to be tidied up at some future time. Since a backhoe was at hand the decision was taken to try digging out the boulders and piling them on either side so the foundation area could be levelled enough for planting and mowing. Extra costs would be met by utilizing SNCRA budget to its limit and, should it be necessary, the Chair of the Oak Valley Committee would stand good for any overrun. (After all this was his idea.)

After several of the boulders had been extracted and piled nearby it was noted that they were granite gifts of the glaciers - and of sizes and shapes employed by landscapers to serve as monuments or accent points. So far from being burdens they could be regarded as assets with a capacity to enhance the site! In the end 2 or 3 dozen had been removed to two piles and the foundation area neatly levelled and ready for grass seed next spring. Then the trails in Section East were graded smooth enough for mowing and wide enough to give ready access. In places where the old sod was scalped grass seed will be sowed in the spring so that it may have a chance to prevail over the weed seeds already there in abundance.

It was a long day but satisfying for what was accomplished and for seeing completion of the entire works program for 1994 thus keeping our Vision 20/20 Plan on schedule.

This is of some importance since with a Chair who is so longevity-challenged we really can't afford to fall behind due to inherent constraints on his prospects for opportunities to catch up on deferred tasks.

Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.