In this Issue...
Projects: News on the big new ECSONG project: a nut grove for the Governor General! The Nut Grove Friends Program is gearing up for the spring field days - for those who haven't yet signed up for a grove, now is the time. Sandy Graham calls for help for the FRP, and Roman Popadiouk tells us why we should choose the Dominion Arboretum Nut Grove. Future help may be on the way - the Girl Guides are planning a Nut Grower Badge to encourage the next generation to value nut trees.
For Growers: Beech Bark Disease is beginning to appear here. The Canadian Forest Service has some suggestions on dealing with it.
General News: Hank presents his recollections of our best-attended Winter Meeting yet. Kathleen Jones tells us why sweet chestnuts had a special place in her childhood. John Sankey tells us why we need chestnuts and more.
We welcome the following who joined since the last issue:
Pierre Goulet, St. Jude (Québec) 450-792-6443
Ron Curtis, Manotick 613-826-2920
Adele Matthews, Gloucester 613-746-8065
David Fisher, Finch, ON 613-996-7623
Charles Spence, Ottawa 613-729-9988
Tim Welsh, Ottawa 613-523-2302
Annual General Meeting
Saturday 17 March 2001 10 am, Patrick J. McManus Center Baxter Conservation Area
ECSONG is expanding, nut growing interest is expanding, our chances for grants are expanding ... Come to the AGM to be part of it all! ECSONG business will be discussed in the morning and technical discussions held in the afternoon.
Bring your own lunch - it will be supplemented with coffee and neat nut foods. Bring some of your favourite nut goodie to share with us. Bring anything you would like to show to your fellow nutters. And, bring guests - the more the better!
Executive: ECSONG holds elections for its executive positions every year, at its Annual General Meeting held the third Saturday in March.
Our Nominations Committee seeks a slate of candidates for the following elected positions: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and two Councillors. So far, the Committee has received nominations for the two Councillors, namely John Adams and John Mitchell. Irene Broad has agreed to stand for Vice-Chair, and Art Read has agreed to remain our Treasurer.
We still seek candidates for the post of Secretary and Chair.
If you would like to make a nomination, do not hesitate to contact me. Nominations from the floor at the AGM will also be accepted.
Ted Cormier, Chair Nominations Committee 613-258-2570 or fax 258-5842
PS... Don't forget to complete the enclosed 'ECSONG Future Directions' - and become eligible for the draw. The prize is a superb pruning set from Lee Valley Tools, to be awarded at the AGM.
The Governor General's Nut Grove
ECSONG has received a request from Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, to help develop a 1300 square meter nut grove on the site. It is to be an official attraction and Canada nut growers' demonstration for visitors, who come from around the world. I am excited, to say the least! Roeland Jansen, the Governor General's Horticulturist, has asked us to help plan, provision and plant the site.
Planting of available stock will be carried in Spring 2001, and the site open by summer, an 'instant' nut grove so to speak. We may be able to help further, in the development of suitable literature for visitors.
Our modus operandi is to assemble an expert advisory team across Canada, working in two parts:
First a small group in the national capital region to: suggest for review species, varieties, cultivars, hybrids, etc. that could be grown successfully at Rideau Hall; and to locate as many suitable specimens as possible of the chosen kinds of nut plants, growing in Ottawa's climatic zone, from commercial and donor sources.
A national team will: overview the Ottawa work, feed in suggestions, and help locate stock; and spread the word about this national-level nut grove initiative.
The ECSONG Project Coordinator is Ken Farr, Canada's leading expert on Canadian trees.
With the help of the project onsite team, Ken will:
[The National Capital Commission Official Residences Branch, Mr. Jansen's superiors, decided to not proceed with the nut grove.]
And, check out February's 'Forestry Forum'. The Eastern Ontario Model Forest Inc.'s hundreds of members receive the 'Forestry Forum', the EOMF's monthly newsletter, edited by Elizabeth Holmes.
The lead article in the February 2001 (V. III, Issue 14) is entitled 'A Canada Nut Grove for Rideau Hall', written by Hank Jones. The article is an overview of one of the most exciting projects Canada's nutters have participated in in years. That is, to help create a Canada Nut Grove at Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada's Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada. Rideau Hall is located in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. This project tells Canadians, and the world for that matter, that cold, cold Canada can grow nuts!
Be sure to get your copy of the newsletter - and consider joining the EOMF at the same time!
Nut Grove Friends Program: Get On Board!
By now, you will have heard of the new ECSONG program that involves members in the seven public nut groves we now operate across the region. The program, entitled 'Nut Grove Friends Program' encourages each member to sign up as a supporter of the nut grove of his or her choice. (Of course, you are encouraged to join more than one if you wish!)
The support given takes whatever form best suits the friend's interest and the needs of the project. The friend benefits by gaining primary access to the planning and operations of the grove, and possibly the future option to become a Deputy Coordinator, or even the Coordinator! The grove benefits by gaining a stronger public presence in the community. And ECSONG achieves a wider and stronger public awareness of nut growing through increased public participation in nut grove activities.
Once you are registered, you can expect a call from the grove coordinator about your interests. The first formal sign-up opportunity was offered at ECSONG's Winter Meeting last January.
With springtime just around the corner, here is how the Program is shaping up:
Don't wait - Call a coordinator today to sign on!
The Saps Are Rising: The Death and Resurrection of
Optimism in Spring
The 2000 growing season at the FRP started early, with warm southerly winds and warm sunshine. The snow was gone by the end of March. The buckeyes were budding up by the end of April. Our spirits soared at the spring field day.
By the end of May, cold, wet reality set in. By the end of June, I could have inspected the trees by rowboat. By the end of July, the buckeyes had lost their leaves to the damp and fungus. I don't remember that we even had a fall field day.
The spring field day on 6 May 2000 was productive. Shaun Funk attended and helped me thin out the old growth on the hazels. We cleaned out the center of many of the plants and removed the rotting wood which had built up from previous prunings. With luck, the plants may generate some new growth from the centre. We also thinned the Turkish hazels back to one or two stems, from four or five, so that they might assume their proper tree form. George Truscott attended and dutifully mulched many of the trees, taking chips from the RVCA's monstrous pile left over from the removal of trees damaged in the ice storm.
The afternoon's entertainment was provided by Shaun who volunteered to climb one of the mature red oaks. It had lost its leader in the ice storm and Shaun was deployed to select a new one from among the ten or twelve competing shoots. Through the judicious removal of these limbs the tree's form has now been restored. I am happy to report that Shaun's form remains unimpaired by any loss of his own limbs.
George and Hank Jones used the heavy two-man gas-powered augur loaned by the RVCA to dig some post holes for the new sign-posts. They were doing well until they ran out of gas (literally and figuratively). We must finish this task this year so that I can install the markers for the new self-guided walking tour. The cedar posts, by the way, were generously donated by Len Collett.
George and I also paid our respects to the minuscule American chestnuts at the south end of the grove which have finally gone to the great nut grove in the sky. They never seemed to like that site (it is probably too shady and wet) and died back every year.
As I say, I don't remember the fall field day on 16 September 2000. I have no notes and nothing on my computer. My diary is empty. I suspect that we all gave up in disgust.
I find myself brimming with foolish optimism again this year. I want to figure out what to do with the single line of hazels. Do we plant a companion line of named varieties to create an allée? Should we open up a nursery behind the hazels for Hank's crop of black walnuts that is bursting its planter box? I want to get some more horse-chestnut to accompany the big one we already have. Two years ago George Truscott and I dug out the little ones that had been planted in the woods years ago where they had struggled in the shade ever since. We moved them close to the big one but they did not survive that hot, dry summer of 1999 (if only we had waited a year!).
I want to get one or two of the bright-flowered buckeyes for contrast. I want to get some American and Chinese chestnuts for a higher, sunnier site. I want to set up an inspection record sheet so that we can keep accurate records of our observations.
Please call me and get involved. I need your help and your ideas. I especially want to dig the remaining holes and install the number-posts so that we can inaugurate the walking tour. If we can do that, it augurs well for the future!
Dominion Arboretum Nut Grove
I believe most of you know the Dominion Arboretum on the Central Experimental Farm. From the late 1880s, this place has attracted thousands of visitors and citizens, showing its natural beauty all year round. Also it offers great opportunities to learn about the trees and shrubs growing naturally in eastern North America and those introduced to this harsh climate from all the circumpolar areas on the globe.
In fact, the Dominion Arboretum is not a pure nut grove, but nut trees of all kinds create a substantial portion of the woody plant collection.
There are veteran trees planted on the site more than 100 years ago. A few oaks and at least one hickory grew there prior to the Arboretum being established. You can see them and collect their nuts. The youngest nut trees were started in the Arboretum's nursery just last fall. ECSONG donated several seedlings of bur oak from Texas. These oaks are just the most recent examples. Many nut trees were started from seeds kindly donated by the great member of the Society, Ted Cormier.
The Arboretum's nut trees have very good stewards. Agriculture Canada staff and volunteers of the Friends of the Central Experimental Farm take care of all trees. They do their best, but they number only a few dozen, while the number of trees greatly exceeds 2000.
So you can imagine how many trees are on the "waiting list". Some trees need watering and weeding, some pruning, some pest and disease prevention. Many trees need a botanical identification and proper labelling. All of these are excellent opportunities to employ your energy and talents
Today the trees are dormant and deep snow protects their roots. Everything seems fine, but spring is coming soon - so please do not be dormant then! Become a Friend of the Dominion Arboretum Nut Grove today!
Girl Guide's 'Nut Grower' Badge
Pat Lam, Area Program Resource Contact Advisor, Ottawa Area Guide House (Girl Guides of Canada) has proposed a new interest badge called the "Nut Grower Badge" for Girl Guides (9-12 year-olds). This proposal arises from a Kanata guide group attending last spring's Dominion Arboretum Nut Grove Tour given by Roman Popadiouk.
Pat intends to encourage the Province and eventually Canada to offer the Badge. She thinks this will happen within two to three years. She is looking for a provincial and national network of nutters the Guides will be able to call on. Here is the draft Proposal for earning the Badge:
Purpose: To promote interest in nut-bearing plants; to encourage planting of improved varieties; and to provide opportunities to associate with nut growers.
1. If possible, visit a nut grove in your area OR Learn about existing nut groves in books or on the Internet.
2. In the fall, under adult supervision, collect 5 nutseeds and document the species and location. For each of the nutseeds collected, know under which conditions it will grow best and what are the benefits of those species.
3. If possible, plant one nutseed and watch it grow OR Speak to someone who has planted a nutseed, and can tell you about its growth.
4. Learn about a Nut Growers Society and its purpose.
There you have it. What do you think? ECSONG and its nut groves are available. Should we appoint an ECSONG Coordinator to liaise with the Guides (and any other like organizations with similar programs in the future, e.g. Scouts, CGIT, etc.)? Also, local nut nurseries might want to join the program.
Many thanks to Pat and her colleagues for their foresight and for getting the ball rolling on such programs for youngsters!
Beech Bark Disease
Peter Salonius, of the Canadian Forest Service, Fredericton, New Brunswick, warns that Beech Bark Disease is just now coming into Eastern Ontario. It affects both our native American Beech and European species.
A scale insect Cryptococcus fagisuga breaks the bark and a fungus Nectria coccinea colonizes the wound. Look for the appearance of small white dots of "wool" (the scale insect's protective cover) on the trunks and on the undersides of the branches. These appear in irregular vertical lines corresponding to the crevices of the bark. Later they may become numerous enough to cover the bark with a white, felt-like mass. The fungus appears as clusters of pinhead sized lemon shaped red fruiting bodies around infection points.
Most trees are not killed by the disease but their efforts to wall off the infection sites create carbuncles and a continued production of poor quality wood. Beech is a root sprouting species, so most stands are patches of clones. A small proportion of clones in most stands is quite resistant to the disease, as shown by their smooth uncankered bark. Many trees show susceptibility only when several decades old, so selection has to wait until the disease has expressed itself thoroughly in the large beech trees in a stand.
Peter suggests selecting for resistant beech by girdling diseased beech several years before harvest operations are to take place, while leaving the clear beech in the stand untouched.
Girdling removes a band of bark, phloem and cambium below the lowest living branch so that sapwood is exposed in a ring around the tree. The phloem is the layer just under the bark that transports sugars and hormones from the leaves to the roots and its destruction cuts the roots off from an energy source. The hormone balance of a girdled tree is such that while the roots are slowly dying, due to lack of photosynthetically produced sugars flowing from the crown, the roots do not receive the signal to sprout that they would if the stem had been completely cut. The roots continue to supply the top of the tree with water and mineral nutrients so that the top takes several years to die.
Even when the top dies, due to the lack of supplies from the now dead root system, beech will maintain sound enough wood to harvest for several years.
Winter Meeting 2001 Report
Another exciting and successful ECSONG Winter Meeting held Saturday afternoon, January 20, 2001 at The Ottawa Citizen building on Baxter Road in Ottawa!
Thanks to Art Read (ECSONG Treasurer) for booking the venue, and for organizing Registration. Art reports that the meeting raised $670 - which I believe is a record! Thanks to Vera Hrebacka (ECSONG Secretary) and her Phone Tree, whose Leaders include: Kathleen Jones, Kurt Wasner, Bob Humble, Susan Cooper, Chris Cummins, Alex Mucha, Isabelle Cormier, Len Collett, Irene Broad and John Flys. Over a hundred people were called, and almost half were able to attend.
Hank Jones, ECSONG Chair, announced that volunteers are needed for four important tasks. Please respond quickly if you are willing to take on one of the tasks.
The Nutty Gourmet (enhanced with coffee, teas and juices) offered many tasty nut treats to attendees. Thanks to Kathleen Jones, Genice Collett, Harriet Wasner and their fellow nutty cooks!
The Children's Program encourages the whole family to attend. Khristina Popadiouk and Dennis Cooper organized and ran the program. At the end of the meeting, Zack and Gina proudly showed their nutty artwork and painted faces to everyone's delight!
Our new activities program for members, entitled Friends of ECSONG Nut Groves, the brain child of Vera Hrebacka, got underway, with sign-up sheets at the Registration table. If you haven't adopted a nut grove yet, call Vera 613-231-4224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thanks to the nut grove coordinators for their Panel Discussion on the attractions of their respective groves. Headed by Peter Carr (Oak Valley), the panel included: Ted Cormier, who spoke for Michael Keeling's Bear Oak Nut Grove; Dolman Ridge Nut Grove (John Sankey); the Lavant Shagbarks Nut Grove (Len Collett); The Filmore R. Park Nut Grove (Sandy Graham, who arrived in the nick of time).
Roeland Jansen and Tim Welch gave the meeting a slide tour of the grounds of Rideau Hall, the Governor General' s residence. He talked about the nut trees already there, and about the GG's desire to see a nut garden as well as more nut trees and shrubs here and there around the 80-acre site. This garden and the other nut trees and shrubs would be featured in the public literature and tours of Rideau Hall. He has asked ECSONG and Canada's nut growers to pitch in to make this nut grove one of Canada's best. The GG is about to put Canada on the map as the world's newest nut producing country!
Rob Saunders revealed his thoughts about nut growing and ECSONG. He believes the time is now right for the explosive growth of nut growing in Eastern Ontario. He notes that ECSONG should seek all the publicity it can get, in order to make the public aware of the opportunities in this region.
Dan Mayo, a recent convert to Nut Growing, spoke lovingly of his farm on Oak Creek Road near Carp, where is planning a multi-acre nut grove, planting to start this spring.
John Adams, a new member of ECSONG, has been planning a nut grove on his estate for some years now. He showed us a GIS map of his planned plantings. John and Dan seized the opportunity to have a serious discussion on nut groves that could help both of them. Both plan nut groves spanning several acres.
Ted and Isabelle spoke to the meeting about The Seed Source, Canada's premier collector of wild, feral and domestic nut seed in the Eastern Ontario region. They also exhibited their wares, offering samples sets of many species of nut undergoing stratification to be ready for planting this coming spring. If you missed their exhibit, contact them at 613-258-2570, to get your nutseed for the spring.
Neil Thomas is developing a proposal to begin serious research on the commercialization of black walnut crops in the region. He presented this proposal to MNR and OMAFRA staff on January 31, 2001, at Kemptville College. The work would center on Lostwithiel, Neil's Farm, but involve other sites around the region.
Larry Wade and Len Collett are concerned about getting ECSONG much more public exposure. Several people have said that if they had only known about ECSONG twenty years ago they would have joined up immediately! Larry suggested we recruit the Governor General as our Patron, for starters. He also reviewed the website for the GG's nut grove, and has offered to rewrite the main text to orient it better to the general public.
Thanks to John Flys for managing the meeting's exhibits, and helping the Kids Program get set up.
After the meeting, Chris Ledderhof noted to me the article in the last issue of The Nuttery concerning rescuing the poor, cankered butternut. Chris would like to follow up on this idea, and I expect we will be discussing a project to support the rescue of the butternut involving Chris's farmstead in the near future. Are you interested in participating? I understand that a proposal in is preparation by MNR staff for a major project based in the forestry station in Sault Ste Marie. Maybe we could link up, and include EOMF and others?
Michael Broad flashed a photo of the ginkgo tree at Kew Gardens planted in 1792! If I remember correctly, this tree is said to be the first ginkgo to be brought from China to England. Michael will seek the permission of the copyright holder to allow publishing the picture on ECSONG's website.
Irene Broad has concerns about the growing use of paper while we are worried about the health of our forest and its wildlife. She wants us all to use paper sparingly, and to make sure that everyone should do the same. When you use paper, use it fully!
Thanks to all the folks who attended, making this a most enjoyable and fruitful meeting.
For the Love of Chestnuts
When I was a girl growing up in Ulster (Northern Ireland), every Hallowe'en my father Ernest Arthur Burling would bring home fresh fruits and nuts. This was back just after the First World War, in the 1920's, so getting fresh fruits and nuts was a rare and exciting treat!
I want to tell you about a game my sisters and I played with the big brown chestnuts Dad brought home. We would pick out two nuts, call one the Boyfriend and the other the Girlfriend. Then we put them side by side by the open fire. Whichever one sizzled first was the one who had fallen in love with the other first. Guess which one it would be!
We had lots of fun playing Boyfriend Girlfriend with the chestnuts!
The American Chestnut
The American Chestnut, Castanea dentata, was known as 'the redwood of the east' before 1900. Mature trees reached 30 m in height with 3 m trunks. The species constituted an incredible 25% of forest cover from Florida to Oakville Ontario.
The straight grained wood was lighter than oak, more rot resistant than redwood, useful for everything from fencing to fine furniture. The National Geographic notes a 321 mile long parkway fenced entirely with American chestnut!
The nuts were an important cash crop for many families who would cram their attics full of burlap bags packed with chestnuts - unlike many nuts, C. dentata bears every year. When the holidays approached, they were sold to be roasted over an open fire as Kathleen Jones describes.
Then, an Asian fungus arrived. Within 3 decades, almost all North America's native chestnuts, an estimated 3.5 billion of them, were reduced to root sprouts.
It is easy to view this as a man-made catastrophe - we brought the fungus here. It is better to view it as a reminder of the importance of biodiversity. Chestnut trees had become a continent-wide monoculture, albeit by natural means. Mature biomes have enough species that one does not 'take over'. But, our forests are only 15,000 years old - not enough kinds of trees have yet moved in to our ice-scoured land. We need more kinds of trees where the ice age recently ruled, so diseases can't spread as easily as they did with the American Chestnut.
It is also a reminder that we need to have faith in the adaptability of natural life - it's been around for at least 3 billion years! The talk of doom and gloom that pervaded forestry since 1920 was wrong. At least two kinds of infections of the blight have now been found, that weaken it. Chestnut trees are now sprouting from old roots that are resilient enough that they can survive the weaker blights. Ed Greenwell of the American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation wrote us this fall, "I just came home from an exciting weekend of collecting scionwood from large surviving American Chestnuts in North Carolina. It's great to see some of the former giants fighting off blight in their native habitat."
That's why ECSONG's work on guarding existing nut trees and planting new kinds of nut trees here is so important. And, it's why you should join up with one of our nut groves before the spring season. That's where our work gets down to earth.
The Nuttery 17(3):14-15 (1999)
American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation
American Chestnut Foundation
Canadian Chestnut Foundation
National Geographic 177(2):128-140 (1990)
Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.