Nut trees are a long-term investment
- Credit: pxhere.com
Writing this column has sometimes made me feel like that character from the Fast Show who lives in a shed and starts every conversation with ‘this week I have mostly been...’
Well, this week I have mostly been… watching almonds and walnuts.
Most people only think to plant fruit trees if they have the space for a tree, but thinking about nuts is a sound, albeit long-term, investment.
Planting nut trees when they are dormant will give them the time to establish themselves during a cold spell.
Make no mistake, you won’t be needing to chase the squirrels away for a few years but when the nuts start to appear, it's unbridled joy.
I've had almonds for around seven years now and they have just started to fruit.
It's left me feeling like a new father as I’d given up hope of them ever providing me with even a Toblerone’s worth.
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To be honest, as I’d given up hope of any nuts, I’d been happy to enjoy the trees solely for their stunningly attractive, pink blossom and the sharply-pointed shaped leaves.
The varieties ‘Robijn’ and ‘Ingrid’ cope well with our climate and both thankfully are self fertile.
Being from shared rootstock, they can cross pollinate with peaches if nearby and produce slightly bitter nuts, which no one wants.
With some varieties, and the same goes for walnuts, they need another tree in close proximity to be pollinated across and bear fruit.
Both are miniature varieties of the real thing so you will have to be careful when choosing a variety that suits the area you have in mind.
Some walnut trees can grow up to 30m in height, for example.
As long as they have a decent watering regime in their first few years, they will grow into healthy trees that will feed you and future generations to come.
You might notice that cobnuts and hazelnut trees are laden with fruit at this time of year with their distinctive feathered and frilled casing making them easy to spot when out walking the dogs.
You might have noticed more squirrels about as a result while they run with a tiny, pale green rugby ball under their arms looking for a hiding place until things gets beyond freezing later in the year.
Walnuts grow in height quite quickly every year and can put on almost half a metre in height in every one of their first three years after planting outside.
Most average sized gardens will be able to accommodate a dwarf variety like ‘Europa’ which grows to around the size where you will need a child on your shoulders to pick them when they eventually provide nuts.
‘Broadview’ and ‘Karlik’ are so small they can be grown on the patio if you have one or even in a large pot if you don’t.
While many people in the country would only have space for the odd nut tree here and there, it is a distant dream of mine to plant a ‘nuttery’.
There is such a thing in case you were wondering, and it is possibly one of the loveliest things you might do to ensure any ancestors not only remember you, but also that you are still providing for them in your absence.
Nut trees can go on seemingly forever and outlive us all.
I have always thought that it would be the gift that keeps on giving if you have the space.
Not only that, imagine the endless hours that could be spent there, loafing around, reading, or children playing under the trees dissolving the stresses and strains of whatever modern day life turns out to be in the future.
The only guarantee while you’re waiting for your first crop of nuts is that the local squirrels will also be keeping an eye on things so you might have to share a few with them.