It’s Walnut Time

    • Mums are the beauties of the fall garden. Choose plants now in a wide variety of colors.
    • If your bearded iris blooms were sparse this year or the plants are more than four years old, now is the time to divide and replant them. Mix some bone meal into the soil, and plant the rhizomes just beneath the soil surface.
    • Pansies and snapdragons can be planted now to replace summer annuals. They will give you color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • Cover newly planted vegetable starts to protect them from birds. Spray cabbage and broccoli plants with BT to control cabbage worms which make holes in the leaves.
    • Michaelmas daisies have bright flowers in purples and dark reds. These perennials come back every year to brighten the fall garden.

Walnut Trees: Delicious and Nutritious

Nut trees are an important part of American culture. Grown since colonial times, nut trees are truly a multi-purpose crop, providing shade, beauty, edible nuts, building materials and wildlife habitats.

The black walnut is native to North America. Its brown-black, diamond-patterned bark is especially beautiful. Normally growing 50 to 75 feet tall, black walnut occasionally reaches more than 100 feet.

Black walnut trees are especially prized for their exceptional, beautifully grained lumber. Their natural beauty is enhanced by the abundance of wildlife that makes full use of their generous crops. Some people like the flavor of black walnuts (Juglans nigra), though they are much tougher to shell than the English walnut. Both make fine-looking, big shade trees for the garden.

The Persian or English walnut grows to only 40 to 60 feet tall. The nuts of English walnut are more easily freed from their shells than those of black walnut. They are widely grown for commercial production in California.

English walnuts are always grafted to black walnut rootstock, which leaves a noticeable change in the bark on the trunk of the tree. There are many different varieties of English walnut, some of which do well in this area.

‘Hartley’ has been the most widely grown walnut in California for a long time. It has a large, thin-shelled, light-colored nut that is very flavorful. It bears as a young tree and is a dependable producer.

‘Franquette’ is the last English walnut to leaf out in the spring, making it less susceptible to spring frost damage. It also produces high quality nuts and makes a good pollenizer for ‘Hartley.’ The large tree grows to 60 feet tall and wide, making an excellent large shade tree.

‘Chandler’ is a popular variety which bears nuts all through the tree, not just at the ends of the branches. It makes a small tree and is late-blooming. It is self-fruitful, but will produce larger crops when planted near a ‘Hartley’ or a ‘Franquette.’ It begins bearing 2-3 years after planting.

‘Carmelo’ is a late-leafing, late-blooming walnut that is adapted to very cold climates. It makes a very large nut, twice the ordinary size, and is self-fruitful. The large tree, with a 40-50 foot spread, gives wonderful shade as well as delicious nuts.

‘Pedro’ is a very small tree, less than ⅔ the size of other varieties, and it is self-fruitful. It has very fine flavor and is an excellent choice where there is only room for one tree.

Walnuts are very nutritious, and are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have many potential health benefits. Enjoy a handful of walnuts at least 4 times a week.

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