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Reconditioning Black Walnut Trees

 
Mike Mohr
Posts: 3
Location: Rogers, AR; Zone:6B
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I have recently purchased a property that has a few very well established black walnut trees. My guess is they are up to 50 (based on age of the house) or more years old and 40+ feet tall. High winds usually cause dead limbs to fall, but I am pretty sure the trees are still alive, just neglected. I opened up a few of the nuts and it was mostly hard nut and very little meat. Can these trees be brought back to producing meatier nuts? If so, what is recommended?

Thanks
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1530
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Good morning Mike,

Congratulations on your new property, and welcome to Permies.

About the black walnuts, they don't have the big meaty walnuts that are so familiar. Their nuts have a very thick shell are very hard to crack, and have a small meat with a distinctive flavor. It takes a special kind of nut cracker to get them open.

They provide a sought after lumber, hard wood and beautiful grain, if you want to take a few of them out and depending on what else you want to do. Where I grew up they are just appreciated for their toughness, beauty, distinctive nut flavor and shade. When mature they will hold up a substantial tree house!

They are used as root stock for English walnuts.

Some people pickle the green nut including the hull before the shell hardens.

Herbalists sometimes utilize some part of the tree in bitters.

They are used as a natural dye, yielding a beautiful dark brown from the hull, the leaves stain your skin, as do the hulls.

I'm sure there are many more contributions made by black walnuts.

Thekla
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Congratulations, those are very valuable trees. As Thelka mentioned the meats of the black walnut are not the same as the English walnut, which is quite large. The nuts are usually cracked with a hammer around here, all parts of the tree will stain your skin and clothes. If you want to use the black walnut medicinally, it is the inner bark (just before the cambium layer) that is used in tinctures and as a tea. Please do the reading before you use the medicine, I have heard it can be tricky to get it right.

As for care of the trees, prune out all dead wood just above the branch collar. Do the same to all crossing branches, don't use a pruning sealer (those can cause more trouble than anyone can imagine).
Once you have done that pruning, you can spread compost around the drip line and or spread some Sea-90 around the same area, these two items will go far towards giving a boost to your trees.
The nuts are tasty, strong in flavor and oil content is pretty high too, if you have a mind for pressing oil from them, it goes for a nice sum of money per ounce.

Welcome to permies I know you will enjoy it here.
 
Mike Mohr
Posts: 3
Location: Rogers, AR; Zone:6B
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Thanks for the responses. I have been reading as much as I can on here before starting to build my food forest. These walnut trees are in the front of the property and I will probably begin building my guilds there before moving to the back of the property. My main forest is planned in the back which is almost complete shade due to mature oaks. I am not sure what I am going to do in the back, but looking like those oaks will have to be removed if I want any sort of garden/orchard.

Thanks,
Mike
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Posts: 1828
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
122
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Mike, map out those oaks at the back of the property before you make any decisions on removal, a map of tree location and the sun travel in both summer and winter can give you lots of insight as to just how many really need to go.
It is a travesty to take out shade and then find out you could have used some of it for things like Blueberry or serviceberry bushes which do like some afternoon shadiness.
We were going to remove a few more than we ended up taking out in the hog paddocks, turned out they used those trees for shade in the hottest part of the day, which necessitated their staying.

We have about 10 acres of north facing slope that is currently au-natural with white oaks and hickory trees. I know I have to thin the forest but I am still mapping all the trees on a sun travel chart.
Then I will be able to decide where and which trees should become firewood and lumber. I also have a fair stand of sacred cedars which will have to be thinned so the ones left can flourish and grow in their natural shape.
The removals will become fence posts, gates and lumber for the wife's cedar closet.
I try to follow earth mother's intentions in all ways and only take out what absolutely has to go. Even dead wood stands until it either becomes a real danger or I need the fire wood.

Our orchard did require removal of some "baby" hickories and oaks but mostly those fruit trees are where there was a stand of Sumac and blackberries. We have a second area, on our south facing slope, which we plan to use for more orchard, it will be interspersed with the vineyard.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1530
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
77
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Mike you have not said yet what your climate, humidity, soil type, cloud cover, length of growing season and moisture sources are. Nor how much sunlight you get.


Where I grew up a mature oak was practically sacred and there are city ordinances forbidding cutting them down. My frame of reference is preconditioned by my life in deserts and arid places. My reflex is to think you might be able thin your oaks, and maybe your walnuts as well, strategically take out a few, remove some of the branches from others to get light down below, and at angles, and what I call "high shade" which is beneath the canopy of a tall tree, yet enough light to grow full sun plants. That's all I know about.

Please tell me about the conditions where you are. I love learning new ways to think, new strategies.

Thekla


 
Mike Mohr
Posts: 3
Location: Rogers, AR; Zone:6B
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Thekla,

The site is in NW Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. I have not tested the soil yet, but my guess is that it is loamy, but very rocky. No guess for Ph. Rainfall is 40-50 inches on average. My lot is approx 135 wide x 240 deep and is approx 15 degrees off N-S facing. Plan is to clear out the back 50 feet (50x135) of the lot for my food forest. The selected site slopes toward the south and is surrounded by mature trees on all 4 sides, so I don't think selective and underbrush clearing will open up enough light. Even if I completely cleared out the 50 ft. swath, I would still have shade on the south side due to large trees on the south property line. I know I will get quite a bit of southern sun in the summer but less in spring and fall. Looking at a sun calculator, most of my sun would be from the east and west across the 50 ft clearing.

Clearing that swath is not ideal as I hate taking out those trees and it will be very expensive, but if I want to grow food on this property, I don't think I have a choice. At least I will have plenty of wood for my hugelkultur berms and fire wood.

Mike
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Posts: 1530
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
77
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Thanks, Ihave a better picture of it now.

Are you aware of the regional resources part of the Permies? Being grographically challenged, I don't know if Arkansas would be considered midwest USA or southern USA or Appalachia, but maybe some of each.

http://www.permies.com/forums/c/3/

Is the link to the page where you will find all the regions, and associated threads. Maybe you'll find your neighbors there!

Good luck with your project.
Thekla
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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