In this Issue...
Fall Events 2003
We have four events scheduled. Since Sandy Graham is out of town for the month, he will call regular attendees for an informal field day for the FRP when he returns.
First, Tuesday 2 September, is a nut hunt over the 16 ha Lavant site. Last year, we got 450 nuts from one tree. We need to find another this year to continue propagation of these unique trees. Bring a bag or backpack and a lunch, and be prepared to enjoy some of the most beautiful nut trees there are! We meet opposite the Hopetown general store at 10 am.
On Saturday 6 September, Roman Popadiouk leads us through the old plantings of the Central Experimental Farm, which demonstrate where Canadian experts planted their nut trees a century ago. We meet in front of the Friends of the Farm building at 10 am.
Two weeks later, Saturday 20 September, join us for the Fall Field Day at Oak Valley. Help with winter protection, weeding, and freeing our walnut orchard there will be appreciated.
Saturday 27 September is winter protection day for our growing nut plantations on the Dolman Ridge. Light work, but hundreds of trees. Everyone is welcome.
For all events, phone the coordinators at the numbers listed on the masthead if you have any questions or suggestions.
Oak Valley in the News
On 28 April 2003, the Oak Valley Plantation Volunteer Group was presented with an Ontario Heritage Foundation Achievement Award and an municipal appreciation certificate by the Mayor and councillors of North Dundas. Murray Inch, Kim and Lester McInnis, Myrtle McKendry, Bob McKendry, Hank Jones, Vera Hrebacka, Florence & J.D. Cairncross, Josée Brizard and Dennis O'Grady attended for ECSONG and our partner SNC. In addition to the recognition of individual members' service, ECSONG got to speak about the history, goals and plans for the site and our intention to research and promote nut trees. Kim reminded Councillors that once all our highways were lined with trees and Council should consider reforestation.
We received a lot of good publicity, presentation pictures were printed in both the Winchester Press and Chesterville Record. In addition the Press did a half page article on Oak Valley with pictures, plus an editorial about the preservation of the butternut. Our field day that followed produced a quarter page article in the Winchester Press by Bonnie James, with 4 photos. We subsequently had a dozen or so visitors who referred to the Press story as the motivator for their visit.
Oak Valley is a success story! Join us for the fall Field Day.
A Spring Tour in the Rain
"Just touring in the rain ..." Recall Saturday 24 May 2003: the day the rains came down. Roman Popadiouk and Vera Hrebacka were sure there would be hardy souls who would want to tour anyway. They were right - we had 12 (plus Hannah the Nut Dog) to take the tour! Thank you all for coming, thanks to ECSONG for hosting the tour, and many thanks to Roman Popadiouk for leading the tour.
To inform folks of the tour, Hank and Vera postered Ottawa downtown to catch the folks walking in to work and sent out a blizzard of email reminders of the tour to colleagues such as the municipality, Ontario and Federal government groups, gardening organizations, ECSONG folks, etc. around the Eastern Ontario region.
Before the tour started, Alex Mucha and Vera set up a draw for two Korean Nut Pine seedlings grown by Alex, as the door prize. Vera drew the ticket. Marilou Montemayor, of Kent University, who works with the NCC, won it. One of them she said she would grow herself and the other would go to a friend in Kanata.
Alia Montemayor escorted Hannah on the tour, but the rain soaked the brave little Nut Dog who went back to the car for warmth. Alia was most interested in cherry blossoms - we saw some apple blossoms, but not cherry unfortunately.
John Adams, ECSONG Vice-Chair, and Shelley Adams enjoyed the tour, and engaged in much discussion en route about the various hickories we saw that were just leafing out, and about the walnuts, specially the Japanese walnut with its immense catkins.
Joanna Dean, Co-Chair of the City of Ottawa's Citizen's Tree Advisory Committee, bought one of Alex's other nut pines out of the trunk of his car at the end of the tour.
Carolyn Best, owner and operator of The Pantry Vegetarian Tea Room located in the Glebe Centre, who is testing butternut and black walnut cuisine, brought along two farm friends to join the tour. Paul Kuitenbrouwer and Mary Ann Causyn who own and operate their farm near Wendover to the east of Ottawa are developing a nut farm based around thirty year old black walnuts, and there was talk about further ways and means with Roman during the tour.
Roman pointed out that the arboretum offers at least two perspectives on nut trees. In the circle one learns to recognize these trees. Across Prince of Wales Drive on the campus, the nut trees were planted with roads, buildings and dwellings in mind. There one learns how different kinds of nut trees can fit into natural and human settings best.
Roman's fall tour will take us through the campus. This will be a first for the tour, so mark 10AM Saturday 6 September 2003 on your calendars for the Dominion Arboretum Nutculture Fall Tour entitled "Where to plant your nut trees".
Lavant Shagbark Seed Results
Last fall Jim Ronson and I collected 466 shagbark nuts from the Lavant site. A dozen were opened to check quality, the rest divided between three nursery sites.
The growboxes in my back yard, kept weeded and with 1" water each week guaranteed, have produced 29 seedlings. Half a dozen popped up quickly, and are now a healthy 1' high. The rest straggled up one by one, as late as the end of July for one.
The growboxes on the Dolman Ridge were a total disaster. Some critter chewed a hole through all the growboxes under the snow level over the winter, and left only husks. Nothing has come up there.
The Truscott Nursery at Oak Valley suffered from the lack of George - his back kept him away most of the year. The shagbark rows were weeded at the spring Field Day, and twice thereafter by Murray Inch. No watering is possible there, of course. The result - 8 seedlings.
Of course, both the Oak Valley site and mine will be guarded intact to see if any more come up next year. The experts are divided as to whether this might happen - most suspect not.
Come out to the Lavant Fall Field Day to help us find some more. If you have a protected nursery environment, with watering possible, we need you. Who ever said saving the world is easy? The Lavant trees are a unique and irreplaceable genome. They need all the help we can give them to survive.
Nut Orchards and Food Safety
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food has just posted a new web page - on nut orchards in Ontario. It has some useful statistics: Ontario has approximately 600 hectares of tree nut orchards that the government knows about, mostly small plantings ranging from 1 to 20 hectares in size. Most nut crops in Ontario are grown as a hobby, but some producers are beginning to find viable markets with hybrids of ChineseXAmerican sweet chestnuts. Most Ontario nut growers rely on other agricultural crops or off-farm employment as their primary source of income.
The page notes the extent to which farmers, food processing industries and food markets must take very careful precautions when handling tree nuts due to sensitivities of some people to nut allergens. It is important for growers to understand how to properly manage nut orchards and handle nut crops to prevent cross-contamination. Farmers who grow tree nuts in addition to other non-nut foods, such as vegetables or fruit must keep tree nuts separate from other commodities in the orchard, when harvesting, while in storage and during marketing.
Other than that, it's the old discredited story: if you don't live in Niagara or the north shore of Lake Erie, forget it. That's why we formed a SONG chapter separate from Niagara over two decades ago, to prove it wrong.
Forget it, banana belt - we can grow nuts too! In fact, as Neil Thomas pointed out last issue, we can grow better black walnuts than you can!
Why Hybrids, Chestmutts
The June 2003 issue of SONG News has a major article on hybrid chestnuts - Japanese, Chinese and American. Here is a very brief summary.
'Korean' may be a northern Chinese race, not a hybrid. Japanese and Chinese have been crossed with European (Marrone) since history began, but it seems that the 'European' in Scotland and Ireland are really a race of American. "Chestnuts are weird"!
Japanese have the largest nuts, but lowest hardiness - the bark is tender. Americans have the smallest nuts and best hardiness. Chinese are in between. Chinese and Japanese are bark blight resistant, but Chinese have a weakness for a twig blight in the north. The Gellatly hybrids had a lot of European in them. Once multiple hybrid generations have been done, the trees tend towards Japanese characteristics, but only after many, many failures. Eventually, John believes most successful orchard trees will be an untraceable mix of Japanese, Chinese and American.
The Champion Tree Project
The National Tree Trust and others in the USA are developing a plan to rebuild and maintain the urban canopy of the capital of the USA with an emphasis on "champion trees," a term reserved for the largest individuals of each species. The plan is to make clones of all 850 or so national champions registered by the group American Forests. Several have already been planted at historic sites about Washington. But if the new partnership works out, many more of Washington's streets and parks could be sporting genetic knockoffs of the nation's biggest trees.
It takes more than genes to make a champion, of course. Location, care and just plain luck all contribute to a tree's longevity and size, so there is no guarantee that a clone of a champion will thrive in an urban area. But a tree is unlikely to grow into a champion unless it has the right genetic stuff, such as resistance to disease and drought, horticulturists agree. So if properly selected, the odds of robust survival are good.
Equally important, the public attention generated by the seedlings' origins may inspire community members to give a little extra care to the trees, a crucial ingredient in the survival of any urban tree. Says the NTT: "Americans love the biggest, the best, the fastest. If these trees do nothing else other than get people excited about planting and caring for urban trees, then that's a success."
ECSONG has let them know about the world's biggest butternut. Maybe we can make this an international collaboration and get Ottawa involved!
Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.