SONG News July 2000 no. 58
In this Issue...

When the Bloom is on the Rose
Douglas Campbell

There were some very special FFX in play at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from March 22-26, 2000. All sorts of flowers, shrubs, trees, bulbs, seeds, water gardens, landscape construction, educational programs, Association booths, gardening tools, equipment and materials ... and even a blooming bug were on display at the great Canada Blooms show. An overall mind bender! It took a good full day to look at everything and try to appreciate what was being offered. It's that preparatory tonic which gives Canadian's hope that the sunny season is not far behind. All this for the $15.00 general admission ... and Canadian at that!

It was into this environment that several SONG volunteers entered to staff the SONG display and meet new friends ... and perhaps even attract a few new people to nut growing. We could feel the excitement starting to rise as we left the parking lot and passed by the stadium. Our old familiar song was heard above the rush of the other pedestrians.

Take me out to the flower show;
Take me out to the crowd;
Buy me some petunias and flower packs;
I don't care if I never get back;
And if you root, root, root for the home beans;
If they don't grow it's a shame
For it's one, two, three ... weeks
And we're out in the sun again!

This year Canada Blooms drew over 150,000 people ... about 45,000 on the Saturday alone. Crowds like this provided an excellent chance to get out the word and the literature about nut growing. The action at the SONG booth was constant, often 2 ... 3 ... up to 6 people at a time. Several types of literature were handed out to interested takers. It should be interesting to hear how many showed up at the SONG Auction ... business should be brisk! It was necessary to have two people staffing the booth during the busy times. Earlier and later in the day it was possible for the booth staffers to take turns rambling around the show displays to experience the atmosphere of the flowers etc. It's amazing what one can find out after 30 years in the plant sales business. Right beside the SONG display was the Evergreen association. One of their business cards suggested that they are pretty good at something called "tree therapy". I asked them whether they could come out and talk to some of our nut trees ... and they said yes we do that sort of thing.

Way down at the end of the line there was a crafty entrepreneurial group selling some "flower" that I'd never heard of before ... Burgmansia. There were pictures of how the plant looks in mid summer ... a great big mound of flowers with little children standing around in captured amazement. The pony-tailed hair-dos of the gentlemen staffing this booth were kind of cute too. These fellows may have been the equivalent of those fantastic/ambidextrous salad slicer-dicers at the fall fairs ... and kind of entertaining as well. A little fantasy in the midst of a day's work may be just what you need. The Taylor nursery of Milton had their Bloomin Bug on display. This is one of the new Volkswagens which is all hand painted with garden scenery from front to back and side to side, with a blue sky top. This is one of the new Volkswagens which is all hand painted with garden scenery from front to back and side to side, with a blue sky top. They use this to deliver their home products around downtown and the greater suburbs of Milton. The car was said to have taken 2 months of hand painting time to create the scenery and several coats of clear coat to protect it. The "scenery" from desiccation/ decay/ stone chips etc. very effective. Also they get a lot of publicity and notice anywhere they go ... a very creative example of advertising.

SONG was one of the many horticultural societies represented at the Canada Blooms show. I'm impressed how the orchid society has prospered over the years and has convinced so many new members that growing orchids is easy. I was even tempted to take home one of the magenta/white flowered things ... who knows it might be another 25 year fling! In addition to orchid pushers there were the promoters of rhododendrons, azaleas, ferns, irises, bees, water gardens, peonies, violets, lilies, college careers/ courses, garden artworks of many kinds and ... and even ... roses! The booths were staffed by very knowledgeable and extremely helpful people and you can experience a millennium of gardening understanding, just by talking to these folks ... and to witness the wonderful things that they grow weeks before the summer season comes upon us. Now ... in addition to all this, I found myself being welcomed to a couple of the volunteer "lounges" where refreshments were provided and some very "pleasant souls" explained the philosophy of the CANADA BLOOMS show, provided progress reports on attendance, sales, participation etc. Yes ... life takes on a new dimension and a good feeling when you start to realize that you're on an inside track!

SONG Executive Meeting Held

On June the 15th an executive meeting was held at the home of Bruce & Irene Thurston In Branchton Ont. The evening started out quite nice being sunny and reasonably warm. We had a chicken barbecue and a chocolate raspberry cheesecake with fresh strawberries for desert.

This meeting was called to discuss a few important projects. The first being to establish a web site for SONG and it's members to provide them a forum for views, research and sell their nut crops over the Internet. The second part of this was to create a Heart nut cook book devoted entirely to heart nuts. The third part of our project will be to create a video on Ontario nut crops, how they grow, harvested, hulled and processed. This will assist new growers and be an informative video for consumers as well.

Ernie Grimo has put forth this proposal for the processing of Ontario nuts which will entail SONG making an investment of one half the costs of this equipment. The equipment being as follows
An SNT steel brush nut huller (used)$4000 US
An SNT aspirator to separate shell from meats (used)$4000 US
A Meyer batch vacuum barrel float (used)$1500 US
A Shop built 200 pound batch meats dryer (used)$500
US Total cost$10,000 US
I will be travelling to Goldthwaite Texas to pick up the above items in August after the SONG summer meeting to bring back the equipment, I will pay all expenses of the trip myself as well as the costs of importing the goods. I would be willing to pay 50% of the costs of the above equipment, if SONG would grant the other half of the costs ($5000 US). These will be voted upon at the summer meeting at John's.

The American Chestnut: From Decimation to Recovery?

Once one of the most important and abundant trees in the eastern hardwood forest, the American Chestnut was revered for its timber and its high quality nuts. With its attractive oak-like grain, durability, and ability to resist decay, the chestnut was ideal for railway ties, fine furniture, fences, musical instruments, and wood carvings. Wildlife depended on the chestnuts as a valuable food source. Essentially, the American Chestnut has more practical uses than any other tree in the eastern forest.

In southern Ontario, the "old chestnut belt" encompassed the counties bordering on Lake Erie and all parts of the counties to the immediate north, but lying south of a line extending from Oakville (on Lake Ontario) to Grand Bend (on Lake Huron). The American Chestnut was once found in abundance in this area. By 1950, the American Chestnut was essentially eliminated as a forest tree, Infecting the above ground parts of trees, the Chestnut Blight causes cankers that enlarge, girdle, and kill tree branches and trunks. Before the blight epidemic the American Chestnut would reach a height of 35 metres (115) feet). Now only a few over 10 metres (33 feet) tall are found.

Brace Graham, superintendent of the Grand River Conservation Authority's Burford Tree Nursery is striving to revive the native chestnut population within the "old chestnut belt" and exciting progress is being made in the recovery program. Interest groups are saving the few existing chestnuts and creating new populations.

Bruce's vision began with the discovery of a small healthy American Chestnut grove near Burford. These included some mature trees, in fact, the largest American Chestnut left in Ontario is here. These trees, extraordinarily, showed no sign of blight infection. Bruce, realizing the potential of these trees to the recovery of the species, theorized that these unique trees were resistant to the blight disease at a genetic level, and that any offspring of these trees would inherit this resistance trait. Bruce grafted the base of a resistant Chinese-American hybrid tree with a healthy >pure American Chestnut tree from the woodlot and was able to create saplings that are conceivably blight resistant and virtually indistinguishable from the true American Chestnut. Bruce's next step will be to transplant the resistant trees into a blighted area.

Theoretically they should remain blight free and produce blight resistant offspring. If the trees remain blight free the program will expand and the recovery of the American Chestnut as a competitive forest species will be possible.

"My vision is to see this majestic giant regain its rightful place in the hardwood forests of southern Ontario ... it is possible" - Bruce Graham

Bruce was pleased to inform The Heritage Hearth that a small grove of 5 - 6 American Chestnut trees has been discovered here in Halton. They are on private land in the Burl-Oak area. One of the trees has reached over a foot in diameter. The Town of Oakville intends to acquire a sufficient area of the natural woodland in the vicinity of the grove to ensure its protection.

The American Chestnut Trees of Ontario represent the northern-most populations of the species. These robust trees may contain adaptively significant genetic variation that enables them to survive in cooler climates. Our trees could hold the key to the survival of the species.
Excerpt taken from Arborphile, GRCA newsletter, Summer 1996

SONG is on the move!

We have two nut projects under consideration for development. The SONG executive has unanimously approved them at a special executive meeting held at Bruce Thurston's home on June 14, 2000. SONG members will have the opportunity to vote on them at the Summer meeting at John Gordon's place.

We have decided to apply for a CanAdapt Small Projects Initiative grant to fulfill several marketing needs of our membership. CanAdapt funding will provide up to 85% of the costs. We will include three parts to this initiative. The first will be a SONG web site. It will not only expose SONG to the internet, but it will offer opportunities for members to retail their nut crops, provide a forum for information on nut growing, show links with other nut grower groups, allow new members to join, etc.

The second initiative will be to publish a Heartnut cookbook. This will be a first. No such book exists. The Heartnut has been so under exploited, and unfamiliar to people that we will need to teach consumers how to use the Heartnut in their cooking. This will naturally create a demand for the nuts, encourage more planting and SONG will get new members as a result.

The third part of our project will be to create a video on Ontario nut crops, how they are harvested, hulled and processed. This will assist new growers and be an informative video for consumers as well.

Nut Processing at the Grimo Nut Nursery

The second project is one organized and presented by Ernie Grimo who proposes to further develop the processing of Ontario nut crops. To meet the expanding plantings of heartnuts and other nuts in Ontario, more equipment will be purchased to handle the hulling and cracking/ sorting of the Heartnut along with the other commercial nuts. SONG is asked to grant half of the cost of the used equipment being purchased. In return a small grower processing fee will be charged to recuperate the cost of SONG's share. Growers can sell their nut crops to Grimo for processing or Grimo can process and broker the nuts for the grower.

Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program

The Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program provides Ontario landowners a way of receiving management advice while reducing taxes to the farmland rate which is 25% of the residential rate. To be eligible, a treed area needs to be at least 4 hectares (9.88 acres) excluding residences in each assessment roll number and must have at least:

A managed forest plan is needed which must be approved by a person designated by the Ministry of Natural Resources as a Managed Forest Plan Approver. The hired approver needs to visit the property and can provide management recommendations for maintaining the health of the forest while meeting the objectives of the landowner. The landowner needs to provide a copy of the most recent "Notice of Property Assessment" for each roll number and needs to sign an application form. An approved plan needs to be submitted to a forestry association before the end of July for reassessment to come into effect for the following year. A record of activities should be maintained. It will be needed in the fifth year when a landowner report and an approved updated plan are to be submitted together.

For landowners who began receiving benefits of the rebate program in 1996 (it changed to a reassessment incentive program in 1998), the landowner report and approved updated plan need to be submitted by July 31, 2000. Early arrangement with an approver is recommended. One approver who has prepared and approved more than 60 managed forest plans is Bohdan Kowalyk, a Registered Professional Forester and long-time SONG member.

Pecan Pie

This deliciously rich pie is easy to make. Just mix all the ingredients in one bowl and pour into the pre-baked pie shell. It goes great with a dollop of whipped cream.
1 pie crust (9 inch)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup pecan halves
Preheat oven to 400°F Bake prepared pie crest until browned (about 14 minutes). Allow to cool completely (15 minutes). Lower oven temperature to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, flour, salt, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the chopped pecans and pour mixture into cooled pie shell. Arrange pecan halves on top of mixture. Bake in oven until the pie is set (it'll jiggle a little, about 50 minutes). If the crust is browning too fast while baking, cover loosely with foil. Serve pie warm or at room temperature. So enjoy this pie as- it is one of my favourite deserts of all time. Ed.

Chocolate-Chestnut Loaf

15-1/2 oz can unsweetened chestnut purée
6 oz unsalted (sweet) butter
4 oz castor sugar (v. fine grain)
8 oz darkest plain chocolate
2 Tbsp brandy piped cream (optional)
Maron glacé (optional)
Recommended to make 1 day ahead. Melt chocolate (this should be at least 55% cocoa - 75% is great!). Put butter in bowl. Beat until pale and creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy and light. Add chestnut purée and beat until thoroughly blended and smooth. The best way to make sure it isn't lumpy was to press the purée through a sieve first. Add melted chocolate, brandy and 1 Tbsp water. Mix thoroughly. Brush a 2 lb. bread tin lightly with oil, line with greaseproof paper and brush lightly with oil. Put mixture into tin - flatten top and place lightly oiled greaseproof paper on top. Cover tin with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Serve straight from fridge optionally decorated with piped cream and/or maron glacé. Note: This is a very rich desert; a 3/4 inch slice is usually enough!

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