The Nuttery : Volume 8 Number 4 September 1989

In this Issue...

The Ottawa Area Chapter of the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG) will hold its 1989 Fall Field Day entitled Eastern Ontario Nut Tree Tour Saturday, September 23rd, 1989. Registration 8:30 to 9:00 AM, W.B.George Center, Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology. Bring your picnic lunch, collecting bags, family and friends. Refreshments will be provided. See enclosed flyer for details. Call Bob Scally or Hank Jones for reservations or more info.

Eastern Ontario Nut Tree Tour

This issue of the Nuttery may prove to be the most important issue published to date because of a couple of recent events. First, the upcoming fall field day, entitled Eastern Ontario Nut Tree Tour, could prove to be a watershed event for nut growing in eastern Ontario. As you can see from the details in the enclosed flyer, kindly provided to the Nuttery by the tour's sponsors, a tremendous effort has been put into organizing this tour. The two Ontario ministries hosting the tour, namely the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture & Food and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, I believe are becoming seriously interested in nut trees for this region.

Mr. Coons, our host, will be able to receive many people provided we can give him a rough head count ahead of time. Please call me or Bob Scally to tell us how many people you will be bringing along with you. For this signal event, a beautiful fall outing, consider bringing your whole family, and certainly all friends whom you have considered introducing to nut growing in the past, but maybe have been waiting for such a special event as this tour to invite them along.

Now that two Ontario ministries have joined the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority in demonstrating an interest in the potential importance of nut trees in eastern Ontario's conservation, agricultural and forestry future, some members of the Chapter are cultivating some interesting ideas on how we as a society could help our governments successfully introduce nut growing to this region. See Howard Edel's insightful article in this issue on living, acclimatised seed banking for private and public land. I commend Howard's idea to our government colleagues for their serious consideration, and ask the chapter to prepare a draft white paper as soon as possible expounding the idea, for wide distribution.

Further to this possible new momentum on nut growing, member Ed Hogan is preparing an in- depth report for the Nuttery on the first North American Agro-Forestry Conference held recently in Guelph. He tells me that one of the key ideas that has come forward is the intercropping of nut trees and agricultural crops: Black Walnut and corn are mentioned as an example of potential companion plants, Eastern Ontario is already a big corn growing area, and I believe could become an important Black Walnut growing area in the future. Intercropping may be an idea whose time has come in eastern Ontario.

As if all this action was not enough! Alec Jones is writing an article for the Nuttery on permaculture, wherein nut trees play a wide and key role in the success of the small and medium farms of the future in eastern Ontario. Suitable nut tree growing on these farms could considerably enhance the value of woodlots through both their high value wood and their fruit. Markets for nut wood are already well established, though they may be running short of wood sources. Local markets for locally grown nuts are essentially non-existent. However, work is already beginning at Cobjon Enterprises Inc. of Ottawa to develop markets for black walnut seed for human food, nut tree propagation, and by-products such as stains and dyes.

All in all, serious nut growing in eastern Ontario may be finally getting underway! See you all at the Eastern Ontario Nut Tree Tour on September 23rd, 1989 at Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology in Kemptville, Ontario.

The Baxter Nut Grove takes off!

Thursday 31st August, a beautiful day with seasonable temperatures. The Baxter Nut Grove recently received a careful mowing, the job performed by Cliff Craig's staff. Cliff also provided a huge load of shredded mulch earlier in the season. Kitty Joiner and I tackled 1/3 of the mound, spreading the mulch around the young plantings close to the pond. The second visit I arrived at the grove to find the pile had disappeared and just got there when the last wheelbarrow full was disposed of. The spreading was done by Cliff's manpower. Thank you, Cliff, for the welcome help!

Today (the 31st), Alec Jones and I put in a good half day's work. Alec made a thorough appraisal of all the nut trees in the grove, a written report detailing the condition of each tree and a list of the planned projects to be completed this fall. A copy of Alec's report was sent to the Nuttery Editor. Attention was paid the point of land jutting into the nut grove where the original planting of horse chestnuts took place. Clearing this area, the trees are now mulched and protected by wire, now showing signs of sturdy growth. Most trees cleared of weeds and also 2/3 of the perimeter pushed back. I recently acquired a weed-eater, and the implement was put to good use.

Throughout the past summer season, Alec and Kathleen Jones, Fil Park, Cliff Craig, Kitty Joiner & I have spent time at the grove. Fil and Alec have taken photos this past summer and these will be mounted for presentation at some future meeting. If other members have taken photos this past summer, please send me copies and I will gladly mount them also.

Here is a brief summary of Alec's report:

Before closing, we would suggest members take time off to visit their nut grove. Why not spend a day this fall, pack a lunch, park your car at the recreation center or park, and take a walk to the grove, a pleasant stroll.

George Joiner, Gloucester 824-1284.

Nut Trees in Nursery Catalogues

When I became interested in growing nut trees, ten years ago, I had already been exposed to fruit tree nursery catalogues for some years, mainly for apples. In those days, only four kinds of nut trees were generally offered, namely Persian Walnut, Black Walnut, Pecan, and Filbert/Hazel. Usually only two of these would turn up in any one catalogue.

Gradually, without fanfare, other kinds have crept into the catalogues. I had not consciously noticed the magnitude of the change until recently, while I was searching for certain old apple varieties.

One of my favourite nursery catalogues is Miller, Canandaigua NY, just across Lake Ontario. I found Miller's 1989 catalogue lists 14 nut varieties! The list is very enlightening, so I have given it in full below:

Similar trends can be seen on other catalogues. Clearly the nut growing movement is gathering momentum. We should be riding the crest of the wave.

Alec Jones, Ottawa 828-6459

Information Sources for the Chapter's Technical Library

If there is not a wise old saying to the effect that "information is where you find it", then there should be. However, for any particular topic, some sources carry a great deal more of it than do most others. For the interest of members of the chapter, your librarian is routinely scanning a number of journals, magazines, newsletters, newspapers, official reports and pamphlets. Though there coverage is quite wide, there are certainly many more also worth checking. Members are encouraged to note for the librarian anything they find useful, and to let the librarian know the names of the media they are reading for items of value.

Alec Jones, Librarian, Ottawa 828-6459

Future Nut Tree Acclimatized Seed Banks

Many research studies show that humankind is causing the world's climate to warm up and become drier. Historically, in some areas, such as northern Europe, agriculture production has grown as the climate warmed and dried. However, in other areas, such as north Africa, the reverse is starkly true. Now these areas have deteriorated to become marginal for human existence, with ever deepening cycles of drought and famine. There is accelerating desertification underway. The central parts of North America may suffer a similar fate. The world's temperate forests are threatened with destruction. As the climate quickly warms, the local trees could die en masse, and the whole forest would be lost. Trees from warmer climates farther south cannot spread northward fast enough to maintain forest cover. The treeless landscape will wash and blow away.

There does not appear to be any one solution, short of halting, even reversing, many of our natural source exploitation practices, and hence losing our way of life. But there are some things we can do that will help. Some Canadians have shown one way, through certain small projects done in Africa (see the article entitled "African Deliverance" by Wendy Penfield in the latest issue of Equinox).

Planting trees is probably the best thing anyone can do. Trees slow and can even reverse desertification in at least two important ways: they prevent soil erosion, and they absorb atmospheric CO2. However, the trees planted must be pre-adapted to the new warmer climate that is coming, within their lifetimes, or they will not survive. Essentially, we must plant tree species normally growing hundreds of kilometers south of our region. As nut growers, we in SONG have been planting such trees for years.

There is an opportunity, maybe even an obligation, for the Ottawa Chapter of SONG to take a leadership role in assuring the survival of our forest environment. The predicted warming for Canadian areas will shift Ontario into a climate more favourable to the nut tree species we propagate. The exotic species that are already growing in the warmer climate island of Ottawa, are species unable to flourish in eastern Ontario as its climate is now. As the eastern Ontario climate warms, they will likely become the preferred forest species for this region.

As individuals, and as an organization, we should be lobbying governments to fund the widespread planting of nut trees, specially in our own region where we can become involved. Initially, these plantings can become the seed banks for acclimatized seed into the future. Then as the boreal forest recedes northward, these seed can lay the foundation for eastern Ontario's forest of the future, and we may be able to prevent the loss of our forest environment, with all its dire consequences.

We should put forward specific proposals for action to all levels of government, and to our like- minded organizations, that have a vested interest in the continuing health of eastern Ontario's forests.

Howard Edel, Ottawa 822-1691

Editor's note: Howard's idea of planting acclimatized seed banks for future forests is brilliant! These living seed banks could be groves of nut trees planted on private lands. Each grove, maybe several acres in size, having species appropriate to the microclimate and soil conditions of the particular site, could be planted and grown under a possible, future, government program similar to the reforestation agreements under the Woodlots Improvement Act. The groves would be carefully managed to become the sources of huge amounts of acclimatised seed that would be planted widely over eastern Ontario in the future to provide for a continuing forest cover as the present forests recede. A name for the program has been suggested: Private Lands Acclimatised Seed Management Program (PLASM). I suggest a paper be written proposing such a new government program to OMAF, OMNR and Ag. Canada. Comments?

Money from Trees

On February 23rd, 1989 a conference on Income from the Woodlot was held at Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology, set up by the Agro-Forestry Coordinator, OMAF, Clarence Coons. About 250 people were hoped for, and over 400 turned up!

Speakers from OMAF, OMNR, RVCA and FERIC presented papers and took part in question and answer sessions. The subject was covered in two main ways. One dealt with the use of woodlots as they stood, including safety in the use of equipment, adding new equipment such as logging winches and mobile sawmills, marketing products and taxation aspects. The other dealt with improvement of woodlots by better management, planting new trees, extending them to use marginal and poorer lands, selection of the more valuable kinds of tree such as nut trees to plant, and availability of technical and financial assistance from governments. Information booths, equipment displays, and demonstrations were provided.

During breaks I was asked about nut growing developments by several people and some interesting discussion took place. Mr. Coons indicated that a follow-on conference would be held next year. He promised the SONG Ottawa Area Chapter would be notified and invited to set up an information booth. This was a most successful gathering.

Alec Jones, Ottawa 828-6459

Ed. note: I believe our Nut Growers Manual would be a hit at such a conference.

An important year on the Dickson farm

What is it about SONG that keeps us interested in keeping our membership even though we cannot always attend the meetings? It is not the results we see in a day, a month, or even a year. Trees just do not produce that fast, but when one looks back over the years of persistence, though faltering in the beginning, the accumulating results provide a growing satisfaction.

My wife Phillippa and I have been charter members of SONG since 1978, though in the last five years since retiring we have spent much time travelling, so missing many meetings. We still have a strong interest in nut trees, however, having seen some 40 reforested acres under WIA agreements, 30 acres of natural bush of mixed hardwoods, and a number of species of flourishing nut trees.

The nut trees have been planted over many years. The first planting included 100 red oak and 100 black walnut whips, obtained from the defunct Department of Lands and Forests in 1971. The trees came from the St. Williams Nursery, I believe. Knowing nothing about caring for these particular species, we tried planting them in three different types of ground, but they did poorly on all three. The single biggest problem was competition from the grasses and shrubbery. Some 15 of the oaks have survived on a grassy knoll, and though we have not seen any acorns yet, we suspect the squirrels may be cleaning them out early on in the season.

In 1976 an English Walnut tree about 6' high was brought from Burlington Ontario and planted in the yard north of the house with no shelter. For several years it was staked with an iron rod to keep it straight and for several years it killed back, but seemed determined to grow. I then removed the stake and erected a windbreak in the fall made of pallets 6' high to the north and west side and since then the tree has grown beautifully. The tree bore fruit in 1988 and 1989, but it is a tough job stopping the red squirrels from cleaning out the tree as soon as the fruits start forming in the spring.

A Japanese walnut planted from some of the first whips grown by Hubert Rhodes (the designer of the Baxter Nut Grove) had a fairly good crop of nuts when we left the farm on August 8, but on our return August 18th not a nut was to be found. This tree is approximately 10' tall with a well formed crown and a 3" trunk. It is probably 10 years old and is planted where there is little protection from the wind.

A butternut now 12-13 years old had an excellent crop on August 18th, but by August 21st, there was not a nut on the tree, although I had endeavoured to keep an eye on it believing the fruit was too green to pick.

A Black Walnut planted some 10 years ago near the site of a former horse stable and in the lee of some outbuildings has developed rapidly, now being some 15' high and 6" diameter, and now producing nuts.

I hope some of the foregoing may prove of some interest. My wife Phillippa and I would certainly welcome a visit from any members passing through the McDonald Corners area. We seem to be on the go considerably, however, but hopefully a call to our home in Ottawa 828- 5336 or to the farm 278-2437 will find us at home.

Bill and Phillippa Dickson

Hazels or Filberts Wanted

Bob Keeley of 2243 Rembrandt Road in west Ottawa is interested in growing hazel or filberts by his house. He seeks a source of seed, small quantities only. If you have seed, or possibly seedlings, at a modest price, you can reach Bob evenings at 829-7919.

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