The Nuttery : Volume 20 Number 1 (2001)

In this Issue...

Announcements: Spring is here! Come out to all our spring field days and tours!

Projects: Hank brings us up to date on all the neat things we can do to further nut growing, including a Black Walnut Growers Guide for the Eastern Ontario Region. John Sankey is looking for budding naturalists to study the living soil of the MLA oak groves.

For Growers: Len Collett notes a new scientific discovery for tree growers.

General News: Larry Wade spots a new nut product - right here in Ottawa! And Hank writes of a walnut forest near the north pole.

Membership: We welcome the following who joined since the last issue:
Ken Farr, Ottawa 722-8510
Nancy Pierce, Charlottetown 902-566-4487
Bill Trueman, Inverary 613-353-2715

A full membership list will appear in the next issue.

Spring is Here!

And so are the ECSONG Spring Field Days. Celebrate the release of our good brown earth from all that white stuff!

Everyone is welcome. There is something different to do and to learn at each of the groves. Don't be shy! - if you aren't sure you know enough about nut trees to contribute, the Field Days are the best place to start!

This spring we have three field days and four tours.

The Field Days

These are working sessions, where we clear out winter debris, plant new trees, and plan pruning and maintenance for the coming year. All are on a Saturday, starting at 10 am and usually going until mid afternoon. If a tornado or hurricane is forecast, they are moved to the next day, Sunday!
5 May: Filmore R.Park Nut Grove. Sandy Graham 489-4159
19 May: Oak Valley Nut Grove. Peter Carr 728-6744
2 June: Oak Valley Nut Grove.

The Tours

12 May: Mogens Leif Anderson Oak Groves. National Forest Week tours at 11 am and 1 pm. John Sankey 748-0317
9 June: Lavant Shagbarks Site. 10 am. Len Collett 259-2273
16 June: Dominion Arboretum. 10 am. Roman Popadiouk 230-1835

The MLA Oak Plantations Tour
Sat May 12th 11 am, 1 pm
John Sankey

"See reforestation in action! Visit a one-of-a-kind forest with stands of red, white and bur oak, as well as yellow birch. The successful growth of the nut groves shows that this kind of plantation is a faster way to return cleared land to forest than natural succession (letting nature take its course) alone. "

These are some of the many good things that a new NCC brochure has to say about Moe Anderson's plantations on the Dolman Ridge. Come to the tour, and get your copy - hot off the press!

The Lavant Shagbarks Site Tour
Sat June 9th 10 am
Len Collett

If you have never seen a Shagbark Hickory tree, here is a chance to view a whole grove of them! These shagbarks are unique in that they are growing away north of their range. The shagbarks are regenerating themselves since there are younger trees growing in the grove. Also of interest are beech and butternut trees growing in the area.

The site is located on Crown Land in Lavant Township just to the west of the boundary with Darling Township (the boundary is marked on a huge rock on the right hand side of the road). Take Highway 511 north from Lanark for approximately 30km until you see a sign "Brightside". At Brightside turn left onto a road called "The French Line" (the road to Joe's Lake and Flower Station). Follow the French Line for a distance of 8.2km from Brightside. The grove is on your right about 0.5km beyond the boundary sign between Darling and Lavant Townships.

If you are coming from Almonte, follow Lanark County Road 16 until it meets Hwy 511. Turn right and proceed north on 511 to Brightside, a distance about 14km. Then follow directions as above.

If you need more information or clarification, call me at 259-2273. I will be on the road at the site to act as your guide. See you there!

The Dominion Arboretum Tour
Sat June 16th 10 am
Roman Popadiouk

Anybody who is interested to see more than 50 species, varieties, cultivars of nut bearing trees may miss this if you do not come to the spring field day in the Dominion Arboretum!

Our Chair writes:

On behalf of ECSONG, I thank the members and advisors of ECSONG Board 2000, for their dedicated support and sage advice on ECSONG matters. Your individual and collective contributions during the year just past have played a large part in the exploding interest in nut growing hereabouts we are now seeing. Congratulations each and every one: Vera Hrebacka, Peter Carr, Art Read, John Sankey, Isabelle Cormier, Chris Cummins, Ted Cormier, Len Collett, Cliff Craig, Sandy Graham, and Roman Popadiouk.

And also, on behalf of ECSONG, I welcome the members and advisors of the new ECSONG Board 2001. I am grateful for the return of past players, and welcome specially our new folks - Irene Broad V-Chair; John Adams, Councilor; and John Mitchell, Councilor.

I predict another year of expanding interest and development in nut growing in the Eastern Ontario Region!

Hank, ECSONG Chair Pro Tem

PS... We are seeking a new Chair and Secretary - your ideas are sought!

Lots of Projects!
Hank Jones

It's now mid-April, winter is surely over, and spring is in the air. And interest in nut growing is exploding in our region! Almost every other week now we are getting to sign on a new member.

A reminder: if you have not paid your 2001 dues, do it now! Call Treasurer Art Read 828-6594 with your free hand. ECSONG has lots of room for new members, as the list of activities and events wanting nut growers participation is expanding to match. At just over a hundred souls, we really could use three times as many. We all know folks who proudly own nut trees - lets get them on board. Also, at least one in three seedling trees being planted today should be a nut tree! Oaks, hickories, walnuts, hazels, ginkgoes, heartnuts, chestnuts, buckeyes - the choice is huge. Spread the word.

Did you know that the Ottawa area Girl Guides have created a new badge called the NUT GROWER badge? And they plan to spread it across Canada. Brilliant! Visits to ECSONG nut groves is one requirement to earn the badge. I also think that members with groves might invite the girls to visit their sites, and even let them help out in the planting and management of their nut trees, as credit towards the badge. By the way, I know that an offer has been made to the Guides to undertake nut crop harvesting as a fund raiser.

Speaking of nut groves, if you have not yet signed up for the Nut Grove Friend Program, do it right away before life's lesser needs sidetrack you again! Call ECSONG's Secretary (Vera) at 613-231-4224.

Ken Farr's project to support the Governor General's efforts to create what is destined to become Canada's most celebrated Nut Grove, on the very grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa is well underway. Our nut growers and their supporters are coming through with many offers for specimens that could be chosen for the nut grove. Ken would like to have some help to sketch out what the nut grove might look like, and to offer the ideas to the Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. This is a high profile project - if you want to land Ken a hand, get on the blower to him, at 613-722-8510, or 613-947-9007, or email

ECSONG needs a Member's Handbook. It would describe how we are organized, our board of directors, the executive roles, our special committees, our standing committees and so on. It would present our constitution and by-laws as well. Handy as a reference, it would also help us as individual members get the most out of ECSONG, while inviting each of us to find the best place to contribute to ECSONG success through involvement in its operation. Are you the organizational type? This project is for you!

ECSONG's exhibit display is in need of restoration. We are being called on more and more these days to put a display into a wide variety of exhibits and conferences. Our new display should be: table-top size; foldable; encased for cleanliness; easily transported in a small car; have pictures and artifacts that can be mixed and matched so two or three different themes could be chosen, depending on the message; and not require electrical power. We also have a TV/VCR and video tapes that can be used where there is power. ECSONG has some funds, but we may also be able to get bigger bucks from interested granting agencies. We need someone to take charge of the design - how about you? Call Vera 613-231-4224.

John Flys (905-669-4215 is coordinating SONG's AGM meeting this July 14, 2001 in the Ottawa area. Baxter Conservation Area may be the site. One or two nut groves will be visited after the business meeting. This is a big chance for us to show off ECSONG's tremendous achievements in recent years in its advanced public nut groves that are largely responsible for the exploding interest in nut growing in their region! John invites members to attend - call him if you want to join in - the event will be catered so a head count is important. John says we can expect about 20 SONG folks. How about we match'em?

ECSONG really, really wants to go to the International Plowing Match in Navan, September 18-22, 2001. We cannot afford booth space, nor could we staff the booth for the five full days! But, there are partners out there that we can join up with by volunteering a few shifts.

We have our regular brochure, but lately people have been asking for something more elaborate, a document that maps the location of each nut grove and gives a 'hot' paragraph on its exciting and unique attraction. This will enable folks to undertake self-guided tours, thus multiplying the impact our groves will have on the public perspective. Lets make this ECSONG Nut Grove Guide. Who wants to apply their creative juices? Get the details from John Sankey, ECSONG Editor.

Cliff Craig and Peter Carr say there is a video in ECSONG's future. A video for members - a video for the public? There are many possibilities. Charles Billington of the RVCA might be able to help. Hank has a camcorder which he has offered to John Sankey to help start this process. Does your computer have a frame-grabber? Maybe we could put video clips on the website? Want to be a movie director, producer, actor?? Check with Cliff or John.

Have you sent in your Needs and Interests Survey form? Vera and Andy are waiting! Find enclosed a blank form in case you lost the first one. Fill it out right now - he who hesitates is lost, right? We have 25 returns to date, but we want 100%! Brave New World? You bet, and nut growing will define it. Send in your completed form today.

Last year our bus tour did not materialize. This year it will! If sign-ups go well, registrant fees will cover all costs. If we sell less than, say, 30 seats (out of about 40 possible), then we will find some extra cash. If you are willing to underwrite, say up to $100 or so, then we can be confident the tour will go - any volunteers? Call Vera 613-231-4224. Would you volunteer to be our Tour Registrar? Call Vera, eh!

Darryl Abbinett reports that The Friends of the Jock River plan a Spring Tree Plant along the river on May 5th & 6th. He asked them if they will be planting any nut trees. It was a new idea to them. Can ECSONG help? I understand ECSONGer Gordon Sample is a member of the Friends. Gordon, what can we do? The Friends can be reached through Niel Barrington, Prez, at 613-823-3643.

A move is underway to create 'The Alec and Kathleen Jones Foundation' to offer an annual prize for student excellence in nut culture studies. In order to establish this charitable foundation, its future managers (The Community Foundation of Ottawa) require an organization that can objectively select the winner. Could ECSONG do this? It would mean having a committee that would receive submissions from the students and their schools during the academic year, choose the winner, and make the presentation. The AKJ Foundation would provide the prize money. In the beginning, the prize would be $300, but as the Foundation grew this amount could increase, or other new nut prizes could be set up. Should ECSONG do this? Call Hank 613-231-4224.

To end on a a sad note. As you know, ECSONG does not have an exhibits coordinator at present, so we will not be able to place a booth at the Ottawa School of Art's Art of Gardening show this spring. The organizer, Beverley Fenton, is terribly disappointed. She says that the nut growers booth at the last show changed her life. As a result of her own visit to our booth, she suddenly became fully aware of the tremendous benefit of trees, specially nut trees, to the quality of life in Canada. She says she was not the only person who had this experience at our booth. She was truly, truly sad we would not be there. Surely we cannot let this happen again! Exhibitors, one step forward, please! Call Hank 613-231-4224.

See you all at this spring's Nutty Field Days!!

A Black Walnut Growers Guide for the Eastern Ontario Region
Hank Jones

The Present Situation

The Future Desired Situation

Prospective local producers will need:

Project Definition

What will have been accomplished when the project ends?

Join us! Contact the Nuttery Editor today!

Studies in Oak Tree Growth
John Sankey

The MLA Oak groves are being mapped, and lots of seed planted to extend them with new species. My big project for this year is to study the soil they grow in. There are lots of neat things to do collecting and identifying the little living things that help big oak trees to grow.

It is known that two kinds of common insects, Protura (about 1 mm long) and Collembola (1-5 mm) are vital to recycling leaf nutrients for tree reuse. It is also known that oak trees need root fungi, mycorrhizae, to grow their best. I'll be studying these this summer, focussing on two comparisons: the ridge red and bur oak plantations (same soil, different species), and the ridge and lowland bur oaks (same species, different soil).

Does any member have a young friend or family member who would like to learn about them along with me? It would make a great science fair project!

Important News for Nut Pine Growers
Len Collett

Results of an interesting experiment at the University of Guelph has recently been published in Nature, April 5, 2001 issue, page 651-652 entitled Animal Nitrogen Swap for Plant Carbon by Professor John N. Klironomos and graduate student Miranda Hart. They have proven that a certain fungus feeds on small invertebrates and trades nitrogen from their bodies for carbon from the White Pine Tree.

The fungus is Laccaria bicolor and the invertebrates are springtails, sometimes known as snow fleas. It's been well know that white pine and most, maybe all, conifers work in partnership with ground fungi. What is new in the Guelph study is that the fungus provides a faster mechanism for providing nitrogen to the white pine by attacking the live insects.

Prof. Klironomos's next step is to look at other tree species. If it is wide spread, then that changes everything in how trees get food. This discovery is a break-through in how we view forest ecosystems.

For the nut pine grower, we know that the tree does not grow well without a special inoculant or mycorrhizal fungi to obtain maximum growth and health for the tree. We also know that nut pines will do well where white pines grow.

Charles Rhora, who owns Rhora Nut Farm and Nursery in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula has been experimenting with nut pines for over 20 years. After a number of years of failure he found that the roots of the nut pine have a symbiotic relationship with a mycorrhizal fungus. This type of fungus lives on plant roots sending fine threads, called hyphae, into the soil. The mycorrhizae absorb minerals and make them available to the tree. In return, the pine tree roots provide the fungi with sugars to live.

For nut pines to grow, they must be planted in soil inoculated with these fungi, which can be obtained by extracting some soil and pine needle litter from around the base of a white pine tree.

Could it be that what is new in this research at the University of Guelph is that we now know the mechanism by which the fungus which feeds on the springtails supply nutrients to the tree? This could be important in the way we look at growing nut-bearing trees in Eastern Ontario.

What are Mycorrhizae?
John Sankey

Mycorrhizae are structures that are formed by plant roots and fungi combined as one. The combination is beneficial to both plant and fungus. The fungus receives carbon-based nutrients from the tree, and delivers mineral nutrients to the tree.

One way the fungus benefits the tree is by simple expansion of the effective root area - the fungus can grow finer and faster than tree roots. The left photo, by the U.S. Forest Service, shows pine seedling roots with mycorrhizae, the right seedlings of the same age without them:

The second way the fungus benefits the tree is important for us in a northern climate: the fungus can break down dead organic matter and deliver the phosphorus in it to the tree. Northern soils have more organic matter in them than southern, because all breakdown processes are slower in cold weather. Tree roots can only utilize mineral phosphorus.

And now, a third way has been found - the fungus can paralyse soil insects and feed the tree with the nitrogen in them!

The commonest tree mycorrhizae here are classed as Ectomycorrhiza. In this class, the fungus literally takes over the delivery of nutrients to the tree. The fungus completely surrounds the roots, and grows between the root cells to maximise nutrient exchange. Most of these fungi are Basidiomycetes which produce large identifiable fruiting bodies - toadstools.

Most healthy trees in our area will rely on mycorrhizae - pine, spruce, oak and beech in particular. Killing them can harm, perhaps even kill, a healthy tree. Save Our Trees means skip those lawn fungicides!

Walnut Products, eh!
Larry Wade

I ran into something the other day that I thought mighty interesting, given all the thinking going on of ways in which walnuts could be commercially useful.

In the Njaim Mid-east Food Center (1010 Belfast Road at St.Laurent) I bought a 450 g bottle of "young walnut preserve" imported from Armenia for $2.99. It contained I guess fifteen firm but soft whole walnuts in a syrup - Excellent! The label stresses that cold mountain weather (above 3000') produces a superior product. I was thinking of the bottles of pickled green black walnuts that Cobjon Nutculture Services had on display at the Annual General Meeting at the Baxter Conservation Area last March 17, 2001.

Also, I remember as a kid when I visited my grandparents in Grimsby Ont. that they had long clippers used to harvest walnuts which a company then made into pickles. Anyone else had such an experience?

Editor's note: Njaim also carry roasted hazelnuts and lots of other nut goodies.

Really Northern Walnuts!
Hank Jones

We all know that growing walnuts around the Eastern Ontario region can be a challenge, the cold climate being what it is. Well, you probably will be shocked when I tell you that walnuts have been found in Nunavut, on Axel Heiberg Island in the western Arctic archipelago!

Mind you, they are not growing there now, but they did grow there about fifty million years ago. How do we know? Scientists exploring what they call a 'mummified' forest on the island found the nuts and the trees they grew on.

Mummified means that even though these specimens are fifty million years old, they have not petrified (turned to stone, as is the case in the well known Petrified Forest in the USA), nor 'coalified'. They are in fact the same cellulose as when they grew, at which time the island was much farther south, probably at the latitude of the southern USA today.

Over the intervening time, continental drift has moved the forest into the arctic, with a changing climate that somehow prevented the decomposing of the wood and nuts. Could we get DNA from these nuts?

This find was reported in the Canadian Geographic Magazine, November/December 1999 in an article entitled 'Requiem for a Fossil Forest' by Ed Struzik, pp 42-48.

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