Last fall I stumbled onto a bunch of black and white walnuts (isn’t Craigslist great?) and quickly cleaned them up and planted them in. I simply walked along my existing rows of trees with a hoe and a bucket of seeds, scraped a small hole, dropped in a nut, and covered it back up.
I’d never planted a tree from seed before, and most people I mentioned it to cautioned me not to get my hopes up. But it didn’t cost me anything and it was a fun project to do with my daughter, so I didn’t mind. Standing out in the cold, with her bundled up in a blanket on the four-wheeler, I said one day she might be standing under this tree with her little girl and she can tell her how she helped her dad plant that tree many, many years ago…
Well, come June or so, right about the time I was starting to get quite disappointed that they did not grow, I began to see small walnut trees poking up. Then I saw more, and then more still. All told, I’d estimate around 70% of them germinated. Seeing as I guess I planted around 1500 nuts, that makes for an additional 1000 baby walnut trees growing out there.
Add those to the 800 bare root trees I planted this Spring, along with the approximately 2300 trees of past years… that makes for over 4000 trees in the last 4 years.
As long as I was trying walnut from seed, I picked up a dozen chestnut seeds off ebay and gave them a shot as well. I wanted to provide more protection for the chestnuts, so I planted them in an inverted tin can with an X cut into the bottom. Folding the flaps up and setting the seed inside, I hoped to deter any creatures from eating the nuts. I got the idea from a U of M Extension article.
Well, that worked great as well, and the germination rate was even a bit better than the walnuts. (You can see a bit of the silver can at the base of the seedling in the picture.) The theory is that by the time the tree gets large enough to reach the can, it will have rusted sufficiently to pose no threat to the tree. It’s a good, simple technique, but I wouldn’t want to plant nuts on a large scale with it. Besides, who eats that much canned-anything?
There are other, more efficient ways to set up a small nursery growing trees from seed that I have since learned about and I will be moving my efforts in that direction in the coming years. I now have the seed planting bug…