In this Issue...
The Bus Tour 2001
There was beautiful weather on Saturday 29 September 2001 for ECSONG's 4th Nutters' Bus Tour!
Before departure, the Ottawa folks took a quick look at butternuts, beech, beaked hazel and bur oak at the Vincent Massey Park pickup point. Then, with its Ottawa contingent aboard, driver Don (Shagbark) MacLean wheeled his intercity Howard Coach out of the park, and headed off towards Kemptville College to pick up the rest of the day's 31 adventurers. (Kathleen Jones had booked her seat, but sadly had to drop out at the last moment, or we would have numbered 32.) Vera Hrebacka, ECSONG Secretariat (whose phone calls filled the bus), made sure everyone was comfortable, while Tour Registrar Rob Saunders made sure all were aboard.
At the College, we inspected exemplary ginkgo, butternut, bur oak and horsechestnut. Enroute, Hank Jones and John Sankey described upcoming sites and explained a variety of important aspects of nut tree growing. Jenny King and Alina Proensa helped Hank and Vera take the group through the Nutty Quiz that was included in the tour information package, along with the ECSONG brochure, the AKJ Foundation Prize brochure, the Nut Groves Tour brochure, the Growing Oaks leaflet, and the Nut Tree Growing in Eastern Ontario leaflet. Vera conducted the Burning Nut Question Seminar on the leg back from Charleston Lake County Park to Kemptville. Moms Natalie Proensa and Alice Close had a bit of break while the girls were busy with the enroute quiz.
The Tour was also attended by SONG's Secretary John Flys, Irene Broad (Oak Valley Nut Grove founder) and Michael; George (nut superhunter) Truscott; Sheryle (horsechestnut) Reddick; Shelley, John (ECSONG councilor) and Jamie Adams; David Fisher; Craig Campbell; Jo (let's teach kids nut growing) Saunders ; Alex (nut pine) Mucha; Alan Jones (playwright, actor and Chair of the Ottawa Stewardship Council); Bill (American chestnut) Forrest; Frank (nut grove) Knight; Bill Trueman; Colleen Trimm and Quiller (nut trees are fascinating) Graham; Kanata Girl Guides official Heather Thompson and her mother Dorothy (the navigator) Thompson; and Bonnie (lets grow nuts!) Dillon. Thanks to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority's Cliff Craig and Barry McQuay, of the Foley Mountain Conservation Area, for their help in making Foley the perfect lunch stop, with excellent examples of Shagbark Hickory, Red Oak, Bur Oak and Bitternut Hickory and lookouts.
Our thanks to Ted Cormier for suggesting the sites we visited and to Darryl Abbinett for planning and driving the itinerary a week ahead of time to ensure timing. The itinerary took us from Vincent Massey Park, to Kemptville College, to Smiths Falls, Newboro's Lorne Park, Foley Mountain, Charleston Lake County Park, Driver Don Maclean's shagbark hickory (which had nuts!), and back home right on time.
Thanks to all who participated - see y'all again on ECSONG Bus Tour 2003!
Our Nut Grove Coordinators: An Appreciation
ECSONG promotes nut tree and nut crop growing in the Eastern Ontario region best through its growing number of exemplary research and public demonstration nut groves (visit the ECSONG web site to get background and directions to all the groves). As every ECSONG member knows, the work to improve and present our groves never stops. The folks who accomplish this work are all too often unsung heroes!
Most deserving of praise and appreciation are the groves' Coordinators. They are the ones who plan and plot the future course, recruit the teams, organize the activities, and see the programs through. Their names should be on the lips of every ECSONG member spreading the word about the need for everyone to grow more nut trees.
We must ensure that every like-minded organization in the region (and there are many) is well aware of these folks' considerable ability and achievements in nut research and demonstration hereabouts.
Oak Valley Nut Grove's Coordinator Peter Carr has made great strides in just the few short years since the late Ralph McKendry convinced him to sign on. His innovative leadership has built an ECSONG nut grove that is rapidly drawing in the local community. The grove's owner, the South Nation Conservation Authority, is both proud and involved!
His grove development team is numerous, dedicated, creative and hard working. Peter has shown ECSONG how to participate in the secondary school community services program, by giving many local high school students an opportunity to experience nut growing first hand, while signing off their hours. Over the years, he toured civic groups, speaking about the significance of Oak Valley, and raising the moneys to build a shelter on the site. The shelter (complementing the grove's oaken comfort facility) now stands proudly beside the grove's Truscott Nursery. This nursery is an outstanding model for how to make a superb nut tree nursery. The co-located Pioneer Homestead Memorial now recognizes many pioneer families of the region, punctuated by a rough-stone cairn erected in honour of Dr. McKendry. A pioneer flower garden now also beautifies the grove. In collaboration with the Forest Gene Conservation Association, Peter has set up the Eastern Ontario Butternut Archive, to help overcome the devastating butternut canker disease. He has hosted nut tree pruning demonstration at Oak Valley, bringing in professional foresters to show techniques. He is leading again in seeking substantial grants and long term programs to assure the grove will have support for many years to come. And, while doing all this, Peter also served two terms as ECSONG's Secretary!
Peter has decided it is time for him to move on. To ensure a smooth transition, he has asked team members Murray Inch, Kim McInnis and Rob Saunders to pave the way to the bright future. Many thanks, Peter, we have all learned a lot about nut grovery from you!
Dolman Ridge Nut Grove's Coordinator John Sankey has been applying his naturalist skills to renovating the several 25-year-old nut plantations, and expanding trails through the 385-hectare site.
With the help of his dedicated team of ECSONG folks, he is developing a new Nut Tree Trail to lead visitors through the Mogens Leif Anderson Oak Plantation (named in honour of the ECSONG member who also was a major architect of the site when it was the Central Research Forest in the seventies. It was John who conceived the honour and obtained permission from site owner the National Capital Commission for the naming.) John also spearheaded the program to do the badly-needed thinning of the Ridge Road Black Walnut Plantation. And in order not waste any of the better pieces of wood, he undertook to make them into beautiful Black Walnut Bowls to be used as trophy awards for nut growing achievements. More thinning will be done, so maybe more trophy bowls could be made, enough for awards for many years to come!
John is expanding the site by creating new native oak plantations, including the bear oak (Quercus illicifolia), Canada's latest and newly found native woody plant. John and his team are also investigating oak mycorrhizal symbionts, suspecting that such fungi might have considerable effect of the growth success of oak trees in cold Canada. At the western edge of the site, a plantation of butternuts has been devastated by the fatal canker Siroccus clavigignenti-juglandacearum. Rather than abandon the plantation, John has been watching the remaining trees for natural resistance, and planting possibly resistant seedlings into the midst of the devastation. Let's hope that he finds naturally resistant butternuts!
ECSONG is about education - so school participation in nut groves is highly desirable. John's group has been working with the staff of Blossom Park Public School on a kid's program of black walnut seed-to-tree growing. Special Cobjon Growboxes were built (by John) and installed in an nut tree nursery area at Dolman where the kids could plant and monitor the growth of seedlings that they sprouted earlier in the classroom.
Off-site, John guided a team of National Research Council (NRC) staff lead by Murray Hunter in the creation of the Ferrers Clark Memorial Nut Grove commemorating a colleague. Kurt Wasner's Buckthorn Meadows Tree Farm provided the trees gratis. The grove can be seen in front of CISTI, the Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information on Montreal Road in Ottawa. Due to John's foresight and expertise with the Dolman Ridge Nut Grove, the NCC's confidence in his wisdom has encouraged them to seek his help on including native nut trees in upcoming major reforestation efforts in the Greenbelt. The word to our local commercial nut tree seedling producers is: get ready - the demand for nutlings is about to explode!
John is also Editor of The Nuttery and ECSONG's Webmaster for the new website ecsong.ca, which already attracts over 2700 visitors a month! Learn nut tree agroforestry with John and his Dolman Ridge Nut Grove team - you can't go wrong! Find John on the website or contact him at 613-748-0317. Kudos and many thanks, John, from everyone in ECSONG and the NCC Greenbelt!
A picnic afternoon with family and friends spent amongst the many maturing nut trees of the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove at the Baxter Conservation Area, or a quick ski through on a wintry day, will introduce you to the vision of its Coordinator Sandy Graham.
Now over 25 years old, the grove has developed an inviting and restful park-like aspect, thanks to Sandy and his team. Sandy is continually adding new species to the thirty or so already on display in the nut grove (often affectionately called simply the FRP). At least twice a year, Sandy invites the public to join his field days, to see and learn first hand the pleasures and satisfaction of growing nut trees. He continues to record the detailed history of the site, adding new and old information as it comes to light - we should be seeing his learned work on the website soon.
Sandy has developed a Memorial Nut Tree program for the FRP, whereby a tree can be dedicated to the memory of a deserving ECSONG member. The first dedication was an oak in memory of George Joiner, who lead the FRP successfully through its earliest years. With the help of grove owner the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), its on site staffer Peter Goddard and the Friends of Baxter, Sandy has also encouraged the production of a excellent site map for self-guided tours to the hundred or so specimens on site. Under Sandy's guidance, the pond has been beautifully fenced in local cedar log, and augmented with new hazel shrubs and a stunning collection of wildflowers. However, not all is Eden at FRP - the butternut canker has invaded. Sandy and his team are sadly having to fell infected trees, many of which are among the biggest trees in the grove. The stumps remain because some of the many arising sprouts may be embryonic (rather than clonal), thus with their own unique genotype - which may hold natural resistance. Its a long shot!
Find Sandy at email@example.com or 613-489-4159. We all thank Sandy for his dedication to making the FRP a place of nutty wonderment!
Still more, new nut groves may be in the offing. Len Collett is proposing a site tentatively called the Lavant Shagbarks, in Lanark county. Len has begun work to set this site aside from logging. Also, this past year, Canada's Governor General Clarkson has decided that Rideau Hall needs a nut grove. Ken Farr has started a database of candidate nut trees that the GG might want in the grove in the future. And there is talk about a unique Bear Oaks site near Sheffield Long Lake.
Every ECSONG member needs to know our Coordinators, and recognize their importance to our cause. They are our best resource in providing access to nut tree information and skills. And maybe every member should be imagining themselves as one taking their turn sometime as Coordinator for a nut grove! It is impossible to thank our Coordinators enough for their efforts and accomplishments. ECSONG would certainly be a very pale reflection of its current self without them and their nut groves! Many, many thanks to Peter, John and Sandy.
Presentation to the Friends of the Central Experimental
On November 14, I presented the following ideas to the FCEF Board:
Lavant Shagbarks...An Update
The location of the Shagbark Hickory Grove is on Crown Lands on a south-facing slope up from the Clyde River in Lavant Township near the border with Darling Township in Lanark County in climatic zone 4b at 45 08'N 76 35'W. There have been reports of Shagbarks growing along the Ottawa River and in the Montreal region but as far as we are aware this area supports the most northerly insular naturally-reproducing population of their species in Canada.
During the second week of December, 2001, four members of ECSONG, John Sankey, Jim Ronson, George Truscott and Len Collett spent two days in the area outlining the main area of the grove. With the use of John's Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, we were able to measure the position of over 600 Shagbarks and record their diameter. With his software, John was able to plot the location and elevation of each tree and plot out a diameter histogram. The diameter of most of the Shagbarks are in 10 to 30 cm range with the average about 20 cm. We noted there were a number of young seedlings in the grove but were more numerous in open areas receiving more sunlight. Other trees in the area were mainly Red Oak and Ironwood with a few Butternut and some Beech. We saw evidence of deer in the grove and noticed some red squirrels scampering about. The main grove covers approximately 17 hectares. Some more work will have to be done to site all the trees in the area. We estimate there could be 1000 trees there. The elevation varies from 200 to 320 meters. The results of the survey are on the ECSONG web site.
We consider these Shagbarks are unique and valuable for a number of reasons. The main reason is that this grove provides a souce of seed for further Shagbark propagation in Eastern Ontario and other cold regions of the world. We also know that Shagbarks were logged along the Clyde River downstream from Joe Lake about 1982 under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Discussions for leasing Crown Lands for logging for the next five-year period (2006-2011) commences in 2003. Now that we have established an outline of the area and number of Shagbarks in this insular grove, our next task is to designate the site as a Natural Reserve.
Dolman Ridge Report
On 7 September, I picked up a section of old boardwalk from the NCC yard, and on the 8th, George Truscott & I used it to build a bridge over the stream at the north end of the Nut Tree Trail. Then, 6 October, George & I were joined by John Adams to build up the trail near the stream with earth so it would be dry to walk on.
George & John proved that they are true friends of the Dolman Ridge indeed - there was 5 cm of rain on the 6th, and we quit only when the rain turned to thundershowers!
The NCC also gave us 5 nice metal sign bases. With Larry Wade's help, one now marks each end of the trail, and one each identifies red, bur and white oak plantations. More forestry and nut tree interpretive signs are planned for the future. Many thanks to Doug Anions for shepherding text approval and translation through the NCC.
This is a desperate time for wildlife that depends on nuts. Other than a small crop of chestnuts and a good crop of acorns on the white oak on the clay soil north of the ridge, there is no nut food available anywhere on the Dolman Ridge this year. The acorns were all gone by the end of September, and the chestnuts gone a week later.
Nut trees are a key component of the biodiversity of natural areas. We need to redouble our efforts to introduce enough varieties of nut trees along our trail that, even in years like this, there will be food sufficient to sustain all populations of living things on the ridge.
One of the first projects for ECSONG was an inventory of the nut trees that already grew within our area. However, once seed had been collected from them, ECSONG resources were focussed on our nut groves - the last Inventree entries are from the early 1980's.
As part of ECSONG's website project, I went through the old site cards. Of course, I couldn't resist visiting some of them!
One exceptional site mentioned is on the banks of the Ottawa River in Aylmer - 70 incredibly ancient shagbark hickories, one 50 cm in diameter. Lots of seedlings too. If you love nut trees, you'll want to visit.
Next year, I plan to beat the squirrels to some of their nuts, for propagation on Dolman Ridge. Maybe, the year after that, should it be a stop on our Nutters' Bus Tour?
Oak Valley Summer & Fall 01
On August 17 & 22 the Land Stewardship Program provided us with five students and a director to do manual labour at the nut grove. Volunteers from ECSONG took charge of the students for twofield days.
Kim McInnis with two students pruned the small trees and tidied up the garden. George Truscott and one other student weeded and cleaned up the nursery while another student stained the sun shelter with wood preservative.
Ernie Kerr and his son Bob continued mapping the nut grove, including the new sun shelter. Also the iron pegs in the west field were replaced with patio stones sunk into the ground; eventually markers will be epoxied onto these stone slabs.
Two of Ernie's grandchildren from Edmonton, Alexander and Nicholas, drove his ATV with a trailer attached, and with the aid of the remaining students hauled the brush from the more narrow trails in the pine field out into the open areas thus creating large brush piles that would be readily available for the wood chipper.
On October 20th, after the leaves had fallen off the seedlings in the nursery, a field day of transplanting took place. English oak were dug up and planted in the open spaces of the east field that had been established when the Manitoba maples had been cut down in the Spring. Also white swamp oak seedlings were transplanted from the nursery to the edge of the river bank, and a few white pine trees that were crowding the nut trees in the east field were cut down. All this work was done with help of the usual volunteers, Kim, Lester, Irene, Michael, Rob, John, Murray and George.
Now I am stepping down as the coordinator of this project, and my replacement will probably be determined at the annual general meeting in March. Meanwhile I would like to thank everybody who has supported this project over the years. Your efforts have enabled a whole series of exciting improvements to be made. Now the nut grove looks great!
Safety Courses for Nut Growers
South Nation Conservation recently updated its Health and Safety Policy. It now provides that everyone using power equipment on SNC property must have up to date training on its use. In addition, SNC staff must be advised when such equipment is used, and all accidents must be reported. The Ontario Worker Insurance and Safety Board, formerly the Workmans Compensation Board, has audited the policy and procedures. SNC's staff and volunteer insurance coverage requires strict adherence to this policy.
There are two possible training sessions, one of ECSONG and snowmobile club members (which have trails across some SNC property), or a separate session at Oak Valley for ECSONG, both probably to be held in March or April, possibly at a field day. This will provide our members with information on current safe operating practices and updates on handling powertools such as chain saws, grass trimmers, chippers etc. Dates should be decided by the next Nuttery.
There is no equivalent policy for ECSONG members working at the FRP grove. NCC volunteers at Dolman Ridge agree to make no accident claims in return for 3rd-party insurance coverage. However, any member who wishes to work at any of our groves is encouraged to attend the Oak Valley training sessions.
A Source of Mycorrhizal Fungi
When I established the Dolman nursery in my back yard, I looked for practical sources of the sort of beneficial fungi that help nut trees to grow. I found one - the 'black earth' sold by Ritchie Feed & Seed.
I added a bag of it to two of the growboxes of the nursery. Both boxes sprouted many fungi that I have never seen in my neighbourhood before - notably several Pezizales and Coprinus species (all edible). But, best of all, when we dug up the one year old English Oak seedlings this fall from one of those boxes for transfer to John Adams' woodlot, every seedling's roots were covered with bright white ectomycorrhizae. The seedlings grew 20" high in only one growing season from seeding - great growth for a white oak. And, the Wisconsin butternuts grew 28" high in the same mix.
Absentee Nut Growing
This May, Gordon Wilkinson began a nut grove 2 miles east of Clarence (20 miles down river from Ottawa, 45°35'N 75°12'W) with 70 heartnut seedlings from Niagara sources. As luck would have it, he's stuck with being an absentee landlord - his company transferred him to Vancouver for a few years.
He put a 3 to 4 foot mulch of newspapers and wood chips around every seedling, managed a visit in mid-July, but then had to helplessly sit and watch our late summer drought from 3000 miles away through http://www.farmzone.com!
By the time he could return, in mid-October, a killing frost had made it difficult to tell what had survived and what hadn't. But, he's not discouraged. He writes, "I intend to replace any failed seedlings next spring andplant additional heartnut, as well as black walnut and shagbark hickory."
That's the spirit that founded ECSONG! Way to go, Gordon!
Promote Nut Tree Growing!
Larry Wade & Hank Jones
In order for ECSONG to meet its mandate of advancing nut and nut tree growing in the Eastern Ontario region, it must promote itself and its activities. Some of the ways we can measure our promotions success are: increasing ECSONG membership and membership renewals, increasing attendance at our public events, accelerating nut tree planting, and increasing funding for nut growing. We need help in all these areas!
As you study this note, think about how you personally might be able to help get the ECSONG message out. Even if it's only a single special contact at a neighbourhood newspaper, every little bit helps! Call Larry at 737-4399 or Hank at 231-4224 with any suggestions.
There are many organizations in the National Capital Region whose members (or their children) can be expected to be interested in learning about the value of nut trees. Of course, we already have goal- oriented links with the NCC and river conservation authorities in the region. Each of the groups listed below might be canvassed to help identify for us other like minded groups.
A list of these groups should be compiled and distributed to our membership and links with them placed on our web site. (We can expect those groups to advertise our activities in return.)
ECSONG should assign one member to each of the identified organizations. Our member would then determine the place and date of the main meeting of the group and ask to make an oral presentation of say 15 minutes to it, such presentation to include the video we have made which advertises our programs and our fall bus tour.
Then we need to update our nut display, and we really really need to make a video or two to bring nut growing to life for everyone...
A New Black Walnut 'Cracker'
Cobjon Nutculture Services (CNS) in Ottawa, Canada has developed a new manual home-use cutter- cracker that works well for both hardshell and thinshell nuts, and is much cheaper than other crackers that can handle black walnuts.
Instead of cracking the shell, it cuts the shell to cleanly extract a high percentage of quarters. The minimal black walnut shell debris produced does not get mixed with kernel, so there is little risk of ingesting any sharp shell fragments. Furthermore, no effort need be expended separating kernel and shell debris, as must be done with all other crackers such as the Potter cracker.
It easily opens any of the usual nuts such as Persian walnuts, almonds, hazels, filberts, brazils, pecans, ginkgo, etc.
Check it out on the Internet at http://cobjon.com or call Hank at 613-231-4224.
A Nutty Question!
On the Nutters Bus Tour 2001 last September 29, we had a nutty quiz enroute. The question that stumped everyone was, "Which nut tree might have a bear's nest in it?"
The answer: the Beech.
Hey! But black bears don't live up in trees - why would they make a nest in a beech tree? The answer is that it is not really a nest - it just looks like one.
Here's what is really going on. When the beech nuts are ready to eat (but still up high in the tree), the bear climbs up to as near to the nuts as it dares without having the branch it's on break. Then, it reaches out to a branch that has nuts on it, and pulls the branch towards itself until the branch breaks. The bear then can reach all the nuts on the branch - and it eats them. Then it grabs another branch, and pulls it in. The bear keeps doing this until there are no more branches with nuts. By this time however, many branches may have been broken inwards all around the bear - giving the appearance of a nest! The bear then leaves the site, off to do other tasks.
And there you have it: a "Bear's Nest in a Beech Tree".
Irene Broad Writes
I quote from an article in Michael's U.K. paper, the Weekly Telegraph, entitled "Australia finds power in a nutshell":
"Shells from the macadamia nut are to be burned to provide electricity in Australia. About 5,500 tons of waste nut shells will be burned in a steam turbine at Gympie, 185 miles north of the Queensland state capital, Brisbane. The project could be replicated across a range of other industries including peanut, timber, meat, wheat and grain processing, where waste streams could generate heat, electricity and revenue, a state official said."
I suppose it is logical to use the shells for heating and must have been done for centuries. Michael thinks the Nestle plant in Chesterville burns the cocoa or coffee bean shells - but I think that what we smell is the coffee being roasted. But in making dried instant coffee, what happens to the waste?
We enjoyed the bus trip very much. It was amazing to realize that I had passed so many places along the Rideau waterway and never seen those trees. Nor had I visited Foley Mountain - worth another visit for sure.
Did you know that one of the first Ginkgos planted at Oak Valley has survived and is 4 inches high. We must get down there today and protect it for the winter. I plan to put a tomato cage over it so the grass cutters can't make any mistakes: pack it round with leaves and encircle all with burlap.
Kindest regards, Irene Broad
ECSONG Website Report
The popularity of the Internet to find information is on the rise, and the new ECSONG website is attracting attention. We now have an average of 2700 people visiting per month! The most popular pages are the recommendations by species of our growers' manual (274 viewers /month) and our cookbook (208). Both have been updated to encourage visitors to check our main page.
About 20% of the visitors are being redirected to us from the old site at Cobjon, almost all the remainder came from people asking search engines questions about nuts. As you might expect, "black walnut" was the most popular search term. And, as Hank discovered, if you type in "Dominion Arboretum Ottawa" to the leading search engine, Google, you find that ECSONG is providing the best information on our entire planet on that subject!
Come and visit us!
Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.