Gather the walnuts during the fall or winter, fall is better, and put
them in boxes about the size of ordinary apple boxes, putting in first a
layer of sand (the sandy loam along the valley streams is excellent)
about four inches deep,
then a layer of walnuts about the same depth,
then cover these over with three or four inches more of sand. Place
these boxes out in the weather on the ground where the water will not
rise in them. The reason for putting the walnuts in boxes instead of
beds, as advised by some planters, is that the boxes may be taken to the
field or nursery and the nuts lifted carefully from the sand and placed
where they are to grow. It sometimes happens in a wet and backward
spring that the walnuts will sprout before the ground is ready for
planting, in which case they must be handled with the tenderest care and
not exposed to the atmosphere any longer than can be helped.
One grower had a bed of hybrid black walnuts. The season was late and
when the ground was ready for planting many had started to grow. He
engaged some boys to grabble out the nuts from the sand beds, urging
care, but many of the best were broken and injured. Some of them had
sent down a taproot nearly or quite three inches in length. These early
ones, under proper conditions, are the most vigorous and surest growers,
but in the treatment they received many were injured and killed.
Black walnuts are slow to germinate, sometimes laying in the ground two
years before sprouting. But if kept properly they will start by June or
For the nursery the ground should be plowed deep and thoroughly
pulverized. Plant the nuts 6 to 12 inches apart in rows about 3 feet
apart. Put a handful of the sand from the boxes around each walnut. Our
soil will appreciate the sand or silt from the drifts along the valley
streams, as it has proven to be one of the best fertilizers known. If
anyone doubts this let him try a quantity of it on his kitchen garden.
On the Ford place, near the North Yamhill bridge, is one of the finest
trees in the county, 33 inches diameter, height 75 feet, spread of
branches 60 feet. Bears an abundance of nuts every year. It is 34 years
old. The seeds are much used to raise grafting stock.
Nearly all of the black walnut seed produced in the Willamette valley
will partake more or less of a mixed or hybrid nature, whether from a
California black, Japanese black, or American black. The black walnuts
are very susceptible to cross pollinization and the English walnut also,
for be it known that
With wandering bees and the sweet May breeze,
That virile tide goes far and wide.
The nut should be planted two or three inches deep. A good authority
says to place the nut on its side as it would lay after falling from the
tree. If the nut is sprouted make a hole in the well pulverized soil and
put the root carefully down into it.
The best way for planting in the orchard is to bore a hole with a post
or well auger 4 or 5 feet deep where the tree is to grow, put in a stick
of dynamite and break up the ground thoroughly.
Or, better still, bore down to permanent moisture and fill the lower
hole with good soil or other root food, then dynamite 4 or 5 feet of the
upper section of the hole. Nothing will produce a vigorous and thrifty
tree like a deep and vigorous root system, and no tree responds to
cultivation and care as does the walnut, white or black. After bursting
up the soil, excavate and put in a half bushel of barn or other mould,
well rotted. This will force the tree in the earlier years of its life
and can be no hindrance to it later. Cover the manure with a foot or two
of soil and plant. Both before and after planting the ground should be
ploughed and harrowed until it is as mellow as an ash heap. Plant three
or four nuts in a hill 6 to 8 inches apart and at the end of the first
season's growth pull out all but the most vigorous one. For
transplanting from the nursery the same methods should be followed in
the preparation of the hole and the soil as in planting the seed nuts.
If one wants to lay the foundation for a fine orchard and a fine fortune
as a consequence, these preliminary steps must not be neglected. Because
in time you expect this tree to pay you a rental of $8 to $12 a month.
If you are building a cottage that would bring in that sum, you would
put in much more work and money besides. The wise grower would rather
have a man plant six trees for him in one day than sixty. The walnut is
usually a very vigorous tree and will fight its way among adverse
conditions and surroundings, but its golden showers are much more
abundant if it is protected from the scars of battle, especially in its
youth. It almost seems to respond to the love and affection given to it
by a kind master. Animals respond to kindness, and why not the domestic
trees? It will pay you a big salary after a while when your other bank
accounts and your health and strength fail.
A magnificent row of nine American black walnuts, 35 or 40 years old.
The tree in the foreground is 20 inches in diameter of trunk. The
tallest of the trees is nearly 60 feet and they have a spread of more
than 70 feet. They are at the residence of Dave Johnson on the Portland
road about 8 miles from McMinnville. Seed from such trees as these would
produce the very best trees for grafting upon.
There are very few California blacks of pure strain in the country. The
hybrids or crosses with the American or eastern black walnut, are better
trees for grafting stock than the pure Californias. They are more hardy
and better adapted to our climate.
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