Growing nuts

Growing nuts as opposed to going nuts – how many people buy nut trees for their gardens these days? Next time I go to a garden centre i must look and see if there are any for sale. Much as we love nuts I don’t think we’ll plant a nut tree – I think there is a spring near our garden, or a watercourse beneath because it doesn’t matter how hot and dry it is, things still grow lushly, too lushly in fact.

The reason I’m thinking of nut trees is that I’m looking at my dad’s gardening book; it was given to him by my mum on his first birthday after they were married. For some reason it fell open at nuts, how to grow hazel/cobnut/filbert (same nut three names) sweet or Spanish chestnuts, and walnuts. If i were to plant a new nut tree it wouldn’t occur to me to think about soil conditions as it might with other plants, which is just silly really.

Cobnuts – ‘In this country, Kent is the home of the nut; but where the wild hazel grows is a sure guide to the suitability of the local soil. If hazels grow near your home you can plant nuts with a good chance of success.’ Good drainage is necessary and loam overlaying chalk or sand is best.’ We definitely don’t have the soil for these nuts. As well as instructions about the tuype of soil it’s advised that cultivated ground is best not grass, As for enriching the soil – ‘avoid quick-acting nitrogenous fertilisers. Fur or hair wate or shoddy material is the most satisfactory.’ I guess you would need to know a hairdresser for the hair, but where would you get fur, a dog clipping service? And what is shoddy material? There follows advice on how to plant, how to train and how to prune cobnuts:

.Richard Sudell who wrote the book then is rather sever in his advice about hazel suckers:

Suckers springing form the base are a very great source of trouble and must be broken away. These suckers are called ‘”wands” and are very useful as garden sticks, growing often 4ft to 6ft high and very straight.

Chestnuts and walnuts only merit a paragraph each; the Spanish chestnuts apparently form in abundance but are very small in this country – and I have to say on the odd occasion I’ve come across them and broken open their prickly green shell, they are actually jolly tiny, and that’s before skinning. However, it seems that sweet chestnuts do have a use, ‘plantations of chestnuts are chiefly used for the production of poles; the shoots from the base develop into fine straight stakes, the wood is hard and does not rot quickly. As for walnuts, which Mr Sudell describes as ‘a good tree for a large garden’, it’s additional properties apart from delicious walnuts is the fly repellent quality, ‘anyone sitting under a walnut will not be bothered by midges or gnats – a great consideration on summer evenings.’

So in brief, as well as nuts, hazels for wands, sweet chestnuts for poles, and walnuts to keep the insects away!

I have no pictures of the aforementioned nuts, so I’m sharing some conkers!

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