Years ago it was not unusual to find a walnut tree in most back yards. Walnut trees are easy to grow but need plenty of room to grow. The most common walnut trees are the English or Persian varieties. The Black Walnut is grown for timber and not nuts.
Walnuts are self fertile, meaning you will only need one tree to produce nuts.
You have two choices when choosing walnut trees. Grafted or non-grafted.
Non Grafted: Juglans regia is the common English walnut. Nuts and trees vary in size depending on the parents of the walnut tree.
Wilson’s Wonder, Meyric, Rex and Vina are all good varieties to look out for. Nuts and tree size vary depending on variety.
When, where and how to plant:
The best selection of Walnut trees will be available during the winter months. As the trees are dormant, it is the ideal planting time.
Plant in fertile well-drained soil. In a sunny position away, protect from strong winds when trees are young. Bare rooted plants must be planted during the winter months.
Choose a spot that is sheltered from spring frosts and the flowers can be damaged during cold spring frosts. You will need to a minimum of 5 metres for a walnut tree.
Water well during dry periods and when the fruit is developing. If trees don’t get enough water it can affect the size of the nuts. Not enough water can lead to small nuts and a poor crop.
Prune annually to shape, removing any dead or diseased wood. After initial shaping of trees, the only pruning necessary is the removal of excess twiggy growth.
Pick up walnuts as they fall to the ground. Remove any remaining husks and hose all debris from the shells. Dry in the sun, moving the nuts around every few days to ensure even drying, this may take up to a week or longer to ensure the shells are dry. When the nuts are dry store in a dry dark place in mesh sacks or onion bags. These allow good ventilation. Well stored nuts will keep for a few years.
How to use:
Use in baking, pestos, breads or try pickled.
Tell us your favorite way to eat walnuts Rachel@garden-nz.co.nz