January 17, 2013

Walnuts – that is the question

Should we grow walnuts?

It’s not an easy question to answer. For us partly because we have a reliable source of black walnuts at my mothers house where she has 3 nut producing trees including one rouge tree that is only about a decade old. It’s not an easy question for lots of other people either even if they don’t have access to other walnut trees.

One the one hand we’re quite sure that my mother is going to live forever, because well … mom’s are supposed to right? Besides she’s part German and the ladies on that side of the family seem to live well … forever. I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid that I had a whole mess of old German aunts who I’d swear lived through the Napoleonic Wars.

Even if we’re wrong (and we’re pretty sure we’re not) she might some day decide to move or chop those suckers down. She’s not a huge fan of the little green husks that surround the nuts. They’re dangerous when ejected by a lawnmower, she’s more of a fan of (shutter) processed foods, and besides the third tree killed a wind-blocking evergreen at the north-west of the yard with it’s toxic juglone* when it sprang up where it did because…

that’s how walnuts roll be-otch (I think that’s how that’s spelled).

Truth be told in this case it was more likely because a rodent of some sort carried it there and planted it for the winter only to forget about it or be ran over since it was likely a groundhog and not an agile little chipmunk or squirrel who stashed it away.

*Juga-what? Juglone.

Walnut trees are not fans of the Insane Clown Posse (or at least I can’t say that I’ve ever seen one wearing an ICP t-shirt) but they do contain Juglone which is a secreted toxin that will kill lots of things that one might consider growing near them. They should not be confused with people who paint themselves up like clowns, listen to questionable music, and drink off-brand soda. They may be toxic as well but they probably don’t have tasty (if not slightly bitter) nuts.

Since we’re attempting to buy slightly more than a 1/2 acre this shouldn’t be an issue for us but if we were building on an urban or typical (for our area) sub-urban plot that tend to be less than or about 1/4 of an acre it could be an issue.

For those with a lot the size of ours or larger juglone is really kinda just a boogieman since there really are a lot of things that you can grow near walnut trees. The real problem is that too many people want to grow whatever the heck they want to grow wherever the heck they want to grow it in whatever damn climate, soil type, etc they want.

Damn if they’re not going to see that grapefruit tree produce an abundance of large juicy grapefruit despite the fact that they live in a north-facing cave, under an over-hang in the far north of Canada just before the towering pines to the south and uphill of their cave give way to the tree-less tundra or (something like that).

Juglone safe

There are lots of Juglone safe plants. There are a few different berries that don’t seem to mind it and plants in the Nightshade family like:

  • tomato
  • potato
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • mandrake (I don’t avoid women, Mandrake, I just deny them my walnuts)
  • cape gooseberries
  • petunias (if you’re not looking to grow things to eat)

And let’s not forget good ol’ tobacco! So if you’re a hipster with a penchant for addictions – fear not, you’re friends will think you’re cool and you’ve got that all natural, locally grown, homesteaded, (and not the least bit ironic) tobacco caused trach.

There are loads of other juglone safe plants – google it if you don’t believe me (I dare you).

So if the juglone is not an issue what is stopping us? Like I said – we have access (for the foreseeable future) to a supply of them and we’re both bigger fans of Pecans (sorry walnuts). So the reason that I posted this (aside from wanting people to know we’re still around and have not abandoned the world of natural building, homesteading, permaculture, and so forth) is that I’d like to know what you all (yinz) have to say!

What say you?

What do you say? What disadvantages would there be to us planting walnuts rather than pecan? Should we plant them both? We’ve probably got the space if we really finagle things but I’d also like to have enough sugar maple trees to get a bottle or so of maple syrup per year so we’ve got to be careful with how we place things. So leave a comment, or if you’re reading this and the comments are closed shoot me a message via the contact form and thank you for reading!



January 17, 2013 | W.D.Orkoskey
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