The first trees of the 'Woodwinds" chestnut grove were planted in 1990, when Dolf Wynia retired from his position as a forester with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Annual plantings have been made since then, in spite of serious losses due to chestnut blight and hardiness problems. Dolf has been doing some of his own grafting during the last few years and has been testing several of the cultivars selected by Ernie Grimo. Currently the grove produces about 200 pounds of chestnuts of medium size and larger per year. A drip irrigation system has been installed. "Woodwinds" is surrounded by tobacco fields and the development of sustainable chestnut groves would be an economic and environmentally desirable development for the area. Hence Dolf has persisted in his efforts to grow chestnuts and hopes to eventually have his entire 2.5 acre site, fully stocked with recognized, productive cultivars. He also has Northern Kiwi, a few of most nut species, fruit trees, grapes and some magnificent oak trees. There is something of interest for everyone that likes the out of doors and Dolf s facilities can accommodate a large number of visitors, even in inclement weather. So do come out and take the opportunity to visit "Ontario's South Coast" at the most colorful time of the year.
Nuts About Heartnuts
Nuts About Heartnuts is the title of our heartnut cookbook that is now well under way. We have completed the testing of the recipes and will have it in the printer's hands within the month. We have a mascot for the heartnut as shown on the front page. Our mascot now has a name, Kernel Heartnut. Ladies don't despair, with a change of hat, shoes, gloves and possibly other alterations, Ms Kernel Heartnut becomes female. It has taken longer to come up with an appropriate title and name for the book than it took for us to name 4 children! The official launch of our cookbook will come in the December issue of SONG News. We would be interested in hearing your comments and input in these titles. Nothing is inscribed in stone yet. The cookbook should be available by the middle of December, just before Christmas. It would make an excellent Christmas gift for your favorite cook.
The Commercial Growing Season - 2001
Another atypical growing season becomes history! It started out warm and polite. There was a brief pause ... and then summer heat took over and did not give up until well into September. Then there was that special mystery ... where did al the summer rains go? It was dry and more correctly, it was Really dry, Perhaps it was 15% of normal rains dry. Dry! Well, those were the obvious things. There were some rather more mysterious things for nut growers. Take pecans as a for instance. The pollination season for pecans was sunny dry and good after all, what wasn't sunny, dry and food during the 2001 growing season? There were lots and lots of flowers. Few flowers set nuts! Why? Then for some of the trees that set pecan nuts, the SIZE of the nuts was incredibly small ... at least at my place. The generous heat units/lots of sun/long season should have produce BIG pecans. It was not for lack of water at my planting that pecans were small, because at my place, the pecans get all the water they want! The pecan trees put on a metre or more of new growth; leaves were lush and dark green. However, the fact remains that the nuts were small and very few.
Answers! Sometimes the root cause of events is a bit obscure. It reminds me of various conversations at the Northern Nut Grower Association meeting going back several years. One of the theories proposed was that this year's season sets the stage for next year's flowering performance. If the flower buds are not set in a mature/functional manner, there will be fertility defects that show up in the next growing season ... regardless how good a growing season next year is. This begets the specter that one bad year actually begets 2 bad years. Think about it! The growing season of 2000 was cool. Cloudy sometimes damp, humid and somewhat rescued by a reasonably good September. Basically, pecans like HEAT to function at their best. The growing season 2000 did not supply much of what pecan needs. So, here we are in the 2001 with only a few pecans that are small. Is that the ANSWER? Maybe! It would take a brighter crystal ball to explain the scarcity of hazelnuts this year. The flowering season could not have been better. No mid-flower frosts were recorded at this location. The flowering season was medium to medium-late. Still there are precious few hazels. Mind you ... last year was a pretty good crop for hazels. Is it alternate bearing?
Is that the answer? Maybe! Some folks who are in locations not too prone to late spring frosts may have fair to good walnut heartnut crops this year. The dry ... yes dry, warm summer was pretty good for the Carpathian walnut. With this item it's simply a case that if you can keep the walnut blight out of the leaves and nuts, there's some chance that you will get a good crop. However, you still have to keep the husk fly maggots out of the nuts and maybe the early season aphids/leaf hoppers may have to be discouraged a bit. Although the Carpathian leaves may profit from a dry season, the roots may have different needs. Most of these trees would have profited from a little ... to a lot of irrigation during the 2001-growing season. As of the writing of this article, the sweet chestnuts seemed to be having a jolly good time. There were lots of nuts and the sizing seemed to be on track. I watered my sweet chestnuts twice during the growing season and that may have had lots to do with their good sizing. Isn't it interesting that the pecans with equal or better watering did not size. More questions. Answers?
Some of the minor crops such as hickories, almonds, paw paw, persimmons and hican all have
fair to good crops at my location. However, each year it is rediscovered that if you have the soil
for them, it is hard to beat the year after year heavy production of the sweet chestnut. The high
productivity plus a good market price of $1.50 - $3.00 per pound makes chestnut a substantial
Items Noticed in Passing
During the summer of 2001 there was a lot for tree growers to think about as they were busy carrying buckets of water to their favorite nut trees. Time seems to hang on your hands when you are waiting for something to happen ... such as a decent summer rain. Many times the famous phrase ... showers ... was coming out of the TV's and radios. I heard of one shower dropping on Toronto but I can't find a grower who has reported any significant rainfall. Can any of our SONG member's report actually seeing a summer shower?
Actually the missing rain showers are more than just an idle curiosity. The most pressing observation is that many trees are already dying! Most all Ontario trees, which are still alive, have dropped most of their summer leaves long before frost. It's a curious adaptation, which most all trees have. When it starts to get dry, many trees let the basal, early-formed leaves turn yellow ... and if necessary ... drop off. Many trees had piles of yellow leaves on the ground by the first of August. By the middle of September, most trees are down to just a few terminal leaves. Some of the terminal leaves ... especially those lower down on the trees ... are turning brown by mid September. This latter sign is rather bad news since the appearance of brown leaves within the growing season is a first announcement of death. From there, as Ebenezer Scrooge discovered, if you ignore the first signs, there are many other signs of deaths, which follow close behind. Trees, which go into winter season in a highly stressed state, will probably not leaf out again ... ever ... next year. Often stressed trees split bark in that space just above the ground line during mid winter. From this observation growers sometimes think that "this" problem is winter killing. However, the winter is just finishing a job which drought has pushed up to the edge. All this means that there will be lots of dead trees by spring 2002. We should be ready for it.
Once again, we might make a NAFTA observation. The Mexicans don't celebrate Halloween ... but they do regard the end of October as a significant event. They call to the Day of the Dead. A curious event. It is on that day that some if your ancient relatives can come back and visit you. Most Mexicans regard it as a rather pleasant opportunity. In the day of genes and DNA it is a whole bonanza of possibilities for what you can find out about yourself and your roots!
Perhaps we nut growers will have a "similar" experience with some of our old nut trees come
October 2001. On the other hand, as little as one bucket of water per young tree ... delivered at
the right time and frequency ... may put off the need for spiritual "revisits" to some future date.
Message from the President and his Family
I would like to extend my condolences to everyone who was affected by the attacks that took place on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. My thoughts go out to all of the victims, their families and friends.
When I awoke on that Tuesday morning and got ready for work, my thoughts were on the tasks that I would have to perform, the plants that needed watering and the fall preparations that would soon be underway. Just the night before I was telling Marilynda about a mix-up in plants at work. These were the important issues on my mind. The events of that morning made all of that seem irrelevant and I actually told my wife when she called me shortly after the attacks that the "gardening just didn't seem important anymore."
Now that I have had some time to reflect on what has happened, I realise how wrong that comment was. Now, more than ever, what we have been doing is important. Now that the world seems to be on the verge of another war of global proportions, it is vital that we develop and sustain a food source that is not dependent on technology. Our edible landscapes may take on more importance than we never thought they would in our lifetimes.
I am not old enough to have lived through either of the World Wars, and even Vietnam didn't affect me; I was too young to understand what was happening. Other wars and atrocities of my time, although disturbing to me, didn't affect me personally. They were in far away lands. But now, as our governments ready themselves for a war on terrorism, I am reminded of the stories of survival, mostly from the Second World War, where agriculture played a vital role in survival.
I recall the stories of the Italians, forced from their homes into the hills, who survived on chestnuts, the Dutch people who boiled tulip bulbs and ate them as potato substitutes and other such stories of survival. A friend of my wife's family escaped from his home in Soviet occupied Europe with only the clothes on his back and Siberian Iris bulbs for food. Indeed, we even have an iris growing in our yard that was split from that original clump of irises that Mr. Ruebens brought with him. Our effort to establish nut-culture in Canada and our work to save the American Chestnut has taken a new relevance in the wake of the terrorist attack. A vital importance that may be more than we had even considered.
In this time of uncertainty, Marilynda and I would like to send each and every one of you our prayers and hopes for health and security.
Executive elections were held this summer at the annual meeting in Ottawa. The following are
the executive for this year.
President- Chris Cunliffe
V. President - Vacant
Secretary - John Flys
Treasurer - Ernie Grimo
Editor - Bruce Thurston
Auditor - Joyce Branston
Are there suggestions/ volunteers for Vice-President? Thanks to all who participated.
NNGA - Ithaca, New York
The Northern Nut Growers Association had their annual meeting at Ithaca, New York from August 5-8, 2001. In addition to 35 different speakers/talks on the various kinds of nut trees, there were several interesting tours. One of the tours presented a look at the Cornell Research plantations of sweet chestnut and papaw. The sloping lakeside location seemed to be just what these trees needed. Growth has been plentiful and healthy. Although the chestnut trees are only a few years old, there was a fair crop present. The Cornell management indicated that they get about the same production results with seedlings as with grafts. The paw paw has been a bit lower coming into bearing but the trees are making good progress. Another tour to a somewhat older planting of sweet chestnut showed good progress and performance. This was another lakeside location and once again, the productivity of the sweet chestnut was very much in evidence.
Next year's NNGA meeting will be at Meadowview, Virginia from August 4-7, 2002. There will be the usual many talks on all kinds of nut trees as well as multi-tours of the 200-acre research farms) of the American chestnut Foundation. There are thousands of hybrid chestnuts under observation. A major goal is to achieve blight resistance in chestnuts. It is a worthy goal and a substantial challenge. This meeting will provide major interest for Ontario growers who can turn sweet chestnut into a profitable venture. D. Campbell
Recipes From The Heartnut Cookbook
Chicken Marinade 1 cup heartnuts 1 Tbsp garlic puree (or 2-3 garlic cloves) 1/4-1/2 chopped coriander punch of cayenne 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste) Combine in blender. Let stand on chicken pieces for 15-20 minutes. Season chicken with salt and pepper and bake in a 350 oven on a tray till juices run clear.
Butter Tarts with Heartnuts (1dozen tarts) Boil for 2 minutes: 1 cup corn syrup 2/3 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup salted butter Beat 2 eggs until completely broken up. Slowly pour hot syrup onto eggs, stirring constantly. Roll out unsweetened pastry top line muffin tins. Place 1 Tbsp toasted heartnuts in each. Pour liquid in to fill 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling has boiled.
Sweet Pastry (Enough for 3-10" flans) This is one of my more favourite pastries for fruit or nut flans. Combine in food processor until fine: 1 cup white sugar 1/2 cup heartnuts Cream: 1 lb unsalted butter Add sugar and nut mixture to the butter and mix well Add to above: 3 yolks 1 tsp salt Mix in: 5 cup all purpose flour When thoroughly combined, divide into 3, wrap and chill. Before rollng, microwave dough for 10-15 seconds - it should still be fairly firm. Knead the dough on an unfloured bench until malleable. Flour the bench and roll out using enough flour to prevent it from sticking to either the pin or the bench. Leave dough about 1/2 cm. thick. Roll around pin to place in flan case. Bake in the middle of the oven so as not to burn pastry. Anything made with this pastry should be served at room temperature as any butter pastry is quite hard when served chilled.
Annual Summer Meeting in Ottawa
ECSONG was honoured to host this year's SONG AGM, in Eastern Ontario at the Baxter Conservation Area. This is only the second time since 1978 we have had the opportunity for ECSONG members to meet SONG's executive and thus broaden all our nutting horizons. Our thanks to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and Peter Goddard for allowing us the use of the McManus Interpretive Centre for our meeting and lunch. The Centre is located in the Baxter Conservation Area, near Kars, Ontario, Canada.
John Flys was the ECSONG Coordinator for the event, held Saturday, July 14, 2001. He and Vera Hrebacka (ECSONG Secretariat) arranged for a bus tour to show the group ECSONG's four public demonstration nut groves, as well as a marvelous lunch. John generously donated the special lunch treats, which were most gratefully consumed! Thanks to John and Vera from us all. Thanks to Garnet Simpson and B&G Bus Lines for transportation on the tour. Chris (President SONG, who chaired the AGM) and Marilyn Cunliffe were making their first visit to ECSONG and its nut groves. Marion and Ernie Grimo were second time visitors, so they could see how the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove has grown and expanded in the years since their first visit in the mid-nineteen eighties.
About twenty SONG and ECSONG folks, and visitors, took the free nut groves tour in the afternoon. On the tour around the Fillmore R. Park Nut Grove, everyone was impressed with its grandeur and attractive parkland appearance. Peter Goddard will be looking to include the nut grove in the nature programs he directs at the Baxter Area. However, the demise of the butternuts was noted, as well as the demise of the original hazels which Ernie Grimo says are diseased and should be replaced. How about the Winkler variety that is thriving at Oak Valley?
James Palmer took time from his busy real estate business to inspect the groves. Gilles Cyr and
wife came from the Montreal area to see what has been done here and to discuss how much more
development could be done to the groves. ECSONG's nut tree expert Roman Popadiouk
explained many features of all the groves throughout the day, specially the Dominion Arboretum
(DA). Roman is the ECSONG Coordinator for the National Nut Tree Collection (NNTC), some
of which is at the Arboretum. It was a pleasure to welcome new member George Vorauer who
plans to join Roman and his committee to document our NNTC component at the DA.
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.