A Nut Grove For Ontario's Sun Parlour
I'd like to teach the world to plant
A nutty little tree,
Grow apple trees, honey bees,
And snow white turtle doves....
Essex County has been known for years as a prime producer of tomatoes, soya beans and corn and now some of the nut trees join the ranks. The Essex Region Conservation Authority held its inaugural planting of its Nut Grove on Saturday, May 5, 1979. Bryan Howard and Henrik Hoyer opened the ceremonies with a welcome from the Authority and a general description of Authority activities and future plans. SONG President, John Gordon and Editor, Doug Campbell gave a demonstration tree planting....particularly to show new nut growers the correct way to plant nut trees which are generally tap-rooted. Then the more than 90 assembled growers proceeded to plant 235 selected nut trees. The planting went very smoothly since the Authority had a well developed planting plan and the preliminary preparations had been made with precision. The following categories of nut trees were planted: Northern Pecans, Hicans (Shellbark Hickory x Pecan hybrids), Shellbark Hickory, Shagbark Hickory, Chinese Chestnut, Filberts, Hazelberts (American Hazel x Filbert hybrids), Japanese Walnuts, Butternuts, Buartnuts (Butternut x Heartnut hybrids), Black Walnuts, Persian Walnuts, Scarlet Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Rock Oak.
This nut grove will be of special interest to nut growers since Essex County is one of the most favourable areas in Canada for growing nut trees. When the better types of nut trees have been identified in Essex, these too will contribute to the triumphant, northward march of hardy nut trees into the heartlands of Ontario and all of Canada. (In this respect it's instructive to note that 20,000 years ago, more or less, all but extreme Southern Ontario was sitting under a mammoth glacier of the last ice age.) Also on the adjacent lands, the Authority has planted a small acreage of the interesting "Carolingian" species of trees, such as: pawpaws, black gum, sassafras, sweet gum, etc. These combined plantings will form a focus of excitement and fascination for the people of Essex as well as those of greater Ontario in years to come. The thought of these lands being maintained in perpetuity as a public demonstration is just lovely ... lovely.
The planting ceremony was followed by a tour of the historic old Park Estate which has been restored and is now under the Authority's control. Refreshments were served by Authority attendants who were dressed in the costumes of the mid 1800's when the Park Estate, owned by a Shipping magnate, was in its prime years.
Last but not least, Eugene Whelan, Canada's Minister of Agriculture of that date, was on hand to unveil the property sign of the Authority which conveys the message:
THE ESSEX REGION NUT GROVE
established on May 5, 1979
by the member municipalities of the
ESSEX REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
in co-operation with the
SOCIETY OF ONTARIO NUT GROWERS
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO
for the benefit of all who are interested
in the growing of better nut trees.
Souvenirs of Essex County
The main event at the Essex Spring Meeting was the inaugural planting at the E.R.C.A. However there were some interesting sidelights to the occasion too. Shortly after your Editor arrived at the E.R.C.A. planting site, Eric Slater a very active member of the Essex Horticultural Society thrust two, one quart packages of native chestnuts into my hands. One sample in particular contained very large chestnuts for the native species. Apparently Mr. Slater has been receiving regular crops from his two, 15 - 25 centimeter D.B.H. (diameter at breast height) chestnuts growing on his own property. The growing of this seed will provide another interesting gardening adventure for your Editor. Also one of the Essex County residents took us to a woodlot adjacent to the Nut Grove area and showed us a 45 centimeter D.B.H. native chestnut tree which did have some chestnut blight in it but it was still growing strongly. The same woodlot had 3 native species of trees which are grand champions among the Ontario Economic Role of Trees. Another comment referred to a hickory nut tree growing a mile west of the Nut Grove and this tree was famous locally for its exceptionally large, thin-shelled nuts.
These interesting sidelights seem to indicate that the Essex Nut Grove is in an excellent location to demonstrate the performance of the nut tree species. Further, the bits and pieces of information which just seem to happen at the nut grower events, are what make the meetings so exciting.
Nut Tree Manual And SONG Constitution
A year ago SONG President, John Gordon suggested that we print up for those who are interested a Manual on Nut Growing to help beginning nut growers get off to a good start. Well, the response for the Nut Tree Manual has been so general that it has been decided to publish it on a serialized basis starting with this edition of SONG News. The complete manual contains information for the initial beginner as well as the advanced nut growers who may be interested in orchard production or forestry applications. John Gordon is to be complimented for preparing an excellent and comprehensive manual.
Messages to the Editor
The twenty seed nuts of hardy pecan arrived in excellent condition.
They will be germinated and tested for winter hardiness at the Morden Research Station. Also at
this time, tentatively, I would like to join your exploration group if it is your intention to explore
the Northern Mississippi River area (New Boston, Illinois and northward) in the fall of 1979 to
accummulate another quantity of the hardy Northern Pecan seed. We would like to give the hardy
pecan the most extensive test possible at this Station.
Jim Coutts, Arboretum Assistant, Morden Research Station, P.O. Box 3001, Morden MB R0G 1H0
The Credit Valley Conservation Authority has taken out a 3 year membership in SONG and plans
are now underway to proceed with 4 potential nut grove sites on Authority properties. I will
appreciate your comments regarding the adaptability of nut tree species for the Credit Valley area
as well as your estimates of the various costs of establishing nut groves on a per acre basis. It will
be highly valued if on-site meetings can be arranged during the summer months with the SONG
executives to discuss the potential of the several sites which we have in mind.
Robert Baker, Forest Technician, Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Meadowvale ON L0J 1K0
Editor's Note Bernard Harrison is a good friend and working associate of mine. He hails from England where he developed a curious addiction to pickled walnuts -English of course! He has spent more than 20 years of his life as a resident of Canada and he has spent some of that time perfecting a recipe for pickling the native species of black walnut or as he calls it.... the Canadian Walnut. It may be regarded as an ultimate test of courage to sample a pickled walnut! However I should hasten to point out that Mr. Harrison is one of those retired gentlemen who has that unique ability of seemingly being more vigorous and active in retirement than most are in their working years.
This recipe was originally for pickling "English" walnuts but has been used successfully with
"Canadian" walnuts (black walnuts). Big walnuts are desirable but they must be picked while still
soft enough for a blunt needle -or a piece of stiff wire to be pushed through them easily. In 1978
they were picked at the beginning of July. The outer "skins" are retained. Prick each walnut five
or six times right through from one side to the other. Again, a piece of stiff wire does this well.
Place the walnuts in a non-metallic pan or dish and cover with strong, cold brine. The brine is
made by adding 100 g of salt to each litre of water then boiling until the salt has dissolved. Stir
the walnut and brine mixture 2 or 3 times a day for six days. Drain off the brine then do the same
thing again with a fresh lot of brine. After draining the second lot of brine spread out the walnuts
on large dishes so that there is only a one-deep layer and place in the sun until they are absolutely
black. For the pickling, spices and salt are first boiled in vinegar for fifteen minutes. For each
litre of vinegar allow 25 g of peppercorns, 25 g of allspice and 15 g salt. Do not pour the solution
over the walnuts until it is quite cold. All that is left to do now is to screw the lids on the jars and
put away in a cool place for a few weeks before eating. There is no relish which is the equal to
pickled walnuts for eating with cold chicken or cold turkey. Once addicted, withdrawal is not
Bernard Harrison, St. Catharines ON
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.