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Posts: 51
Location: The Balkans, Sofia
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Hello everyone, I am new to this forum, I am interested in nature for as long as I remember myself, I found out about permaculture(found it while I was searching about fixing my soil) just 2 years ago, and I can say I am from these people that were trying permaculture before even knowing about it(you just know there is something wrong when your soil is much worse than the soil right next to your property that is not being worked), I believe there are lots of people like that.

I want to start my history here with a very important for me topic, its about chestnuts, I really like chestnuts, I believe in chestnuts if you like, so I would like for some advice and information from people that can help me.
I from Bulgaria, I live near Sofia in the northern part of the suburbs, we have clay soil(the city is surrounded by mountains).
The climate is continental, and we are in zone 6.
I know chestnuts like a little bit better climate especially what we have here(the european varieties). It seems I cant find seeds that are not from Greece, and I think the Chinese hybrids, also the one people breed in America(all kind of stuff) worth trying here .

Our climate is really harsh, the winter is really cold, and the summer is really dry and hot, for example it hasnt been raining for 3 months and 2 weeks now...
I like the STUN ideology, but I know I should be providing some water, so now I am wondering what will be the right place for chestnuts here, I am gathering money now(just turned 30) so I have some time to think about the right strategy before executing the plan. My point is does anyone understand the connection between lakes, underground water, what chestnuts would tolerate, I know about the hill stuff and well drained soils, but how you get the water from such a place, the hilly places may be challenging for obtaining underground water, or is it the case?

I am not sure why growing trees becomes so complicated in my head, also my insecurity with chestnuts may come from the fact people here dont grow that tree, and I seems not to understand why....
I read zone 5 is ok for even the european chestnuts, but maybe there is twist about that with late spring or early autumn frosts.... so maybe it will be smart to aim for more cold hardy varieties...
Last year I have planted many chestnuts though from seeds and they are growing really fine(in my backyard I have some space), this year I have planted even more and also some really big Greek ones(as big as the Chinese- just experimenting).

Please excuse my English skills, any useful information or thoughts are welcomed.

I have found about the hybrid chestnuts of badgersett(cold hardy), but they dont ship to Europe....

Posts: 47
Location: Piedmont, NC
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Hi Borislav,

i have dreamed about growing trees since i was in my 20s, doing research and so on, and i have finally moved to where i could have a bit of land just as i turned 50. I;m in a much milder climate than you This summer i was planning my plantings, i know i got quite anxious about getting it just right. I've finally relaxed and recognized if i make mistakes, i will adapt.

I don't think trees generally tap into "underground lakes" -- i think the word you are looking for is aquifer? That tends to be too deep for plants and is tapped by wells. The other term in English is "water table" and refers to how deep you dig and tap the flow of water through the soil and rock.  A place with a very shallow water table is not going to be that good for trees like chestnuts.  You would be able to tell by digging a hole and seeing water flow in and fill the bottom.

From my reading, in a suitable climate, one should be able to provide water during droughts for the first few years but once the trees are established in a suitable location they will be able to survive on rain and water in the soil.

Congratulations on your trees from seed! I collected six seeds from an orchard last October and have planted one of the surviving two seedlings in my orchard area.  I've bought a small Dunstan chestnut (blight tolerant American-Chinese hybrid suitable for the very mild winters and humid summers of the US southeast) as well to add a little diversity to the genetics. The orchard trees descended from Dunstan trees as well, so the genetics are still the Chinese-American hybrid.

Good luck!
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau (hello) Borislav, First thing to start for chestnut trees to grow well is getting the soil lots of compost and other organic materials mixed in.
This can be done with cover crops of all kinds or you can make compost and spread and turn under, both will do the job.
Cover crops would be "chopped and dropped" which gives a mulch layer that will begin to rot and leak nutrients into the soil while worms will pull some of the materials under the soil.
This "no effort" method works but it is time dependent (Mark Shepard worked his farm this way for ten years to get the clay soil turned into rich topsoil).
If you can get compost (the more the better) and turn that under so it is mixed with the clay soil, you can cut the time period by many years (depends on how much compost you can spread).

I would go with the chestnuts you can acquire there, I've talked with several companies here in the states who do not ship to Europe because of all the paperwork required.
There is nothing wrong with the Chinese varieties, I find they seem to produce better, bigger nuts that have a much nicer flavor than the American species that has been crossed with the Chinese species.
There is no pure strain American chestnut since the blight, the few trees that were surviving after the blight and so used to make the crosses, have succumbed to the blight.

What ever species you can acquire, do get as many as possible and let natural selection take over, you will end up with a more ideal for your conditions trees that way.

Chestnut tree roots tend to grow down about 20 feet, that would not be deep enough to reach any aquifer layer unless you have some springs in your area that you could plant near, on the uphill side of the spring.

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i bought chestnut seed from a turkish vendor some years ago , and all of them came up , they have grown very well and coped with minus 8  we had few years ago ,and all our wet and frosty days as well---there could be some very cold tolerant varieties from turkey --given that they have mountains and snow in some areas
Borislav Iliev
Posts: 51
Location: The Balkans, Sofia
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Thank you, when I was in my 20s I was more into black currants, and blackberries, I was thinking I have no time to wait for trees lol, now after I passed 30 I see I have to plant trees and lots of them, I realized one of the few things that make me not to be sad about the time that pass and how my days run away is to observe how my trees are maturing, I tell myself yes I get older, which is something I still have problems with, but in the same time my trees are so beautiful, so that helps a lot. If I have kids It will be similar I guess. I guess here we all share some mentality and values which is really good.


Thank you for your very wise and true advises, soil for me is sacred in a very strange and pagan ways lol, lack of beliefs in any abraham gods anchored my spirituality deep into nature, due to my profession I am a man of science, and still there is a place for spirituality that need to go somewhere, for some reasons we have evolved this way and I cant change it, I have bended my back so many times in efforts to improve the fertility of the little space I own now and it is really hard work(there are no options for the help of machines as everything is planted really dense). I am pretty sure people here think I have some mental issues , just dragging all sorts of materials other people try to get rid of, and it is working, slowly but surely, I have no real plan for how I am going to improve fertility, I have some foggy idea of providing water and then not letting something casting shade on my trees, chopping and dropping the vegetation around them.

I believe in genetic diversity as a very important game nature plays, it all comes down to "shapeshifting" and "tricks" in that game, people get hammered by nature many times by not understanding that game and striving for profit and more "perfect" products, I guess my plan will be having no firm plan but just planting all sorts of stuff and observing what works... it is really sad people here were not trying to develope the chestnuts here in some direction, what grows here are some pretty wild trees with really small nuts, they never changed from roman times I believe, sadly I cant even find good trees that grow here so to take some seeds, I am just buying whatever there is on the market which come sometimes from my country but from the more southern regions that resemble the greek weather more... the chestnut tree here is very underestimated, and it has so much potential, it just needs a little bit of work and experimenting. I will try the chinese too, actually I was researching the weather in China, and I will try to order some nuts from the more northern or more deeply into the continental part farms, China has pretty diverse climate, I guess that affects the plant ability to cope with the specific weather despite it is all the same species, actually I have researched many varieties but I cant find who exactly sell them, there are good steps at developing all sorts of cultivars so it will be good if I can start from somewhere.
I will use the land I have now to plant different stuff and I will use the crosbreeded material to plant somewhere else on more land, my plan doesnt involve any financial returns(many of the right things to be done have nothing to do with making money alas) so at least I cant fail too much lol.

I am sorry for talking too much its just good to be able to share whats going on in my head with people with similar mentality since people around me dont understand at all.


I guess they have, I am open for everything, I will plant a lot and then I will remove a lot.

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