Nuts provide essential food for a wide range of mammal and bird species and are an incredibly resilient source for high quality fat and protein. The natural range of nut trees (particularly those most useful) followed settlement of the indigenous people in the Northeast; it is in our nature to spread nut trees. We offer a variety of nut trees well suited to Central Vermont.
Currently many of the local beech and butternut trees are dying from disease and the Vermont landscape is losing a vital source of nutrition for many species. Animals are beginning to move nut trees (mostly red oaks, though some white oak and hickory) deeper into our northern forests. However their capacities and ranges are limited. Thanks to the work of breeders and backyard gardeners (as well as the somewhat more mild winters of the past few years), there are a variety of nut trees we can plant to enrich our local ecology.
Many nut trees are tap-rooted, making it very difficult to transplant large trees (however small trees are inexpensive and transplant easily). Many species do not grow well in pots and are best transplanted directly from growing beds in the early spring or late fall. We encourage planting bare-root nut trees available only in the early spring or late fall. Nut trees may grow slowly for one or two years and take off once the taproot is established. Most nut trees also produce high quality timber, and may be coppice managed. Give trees plenty of space and you will never regret planting a nut tree.
Growing Nut Trees from Seed
Propagating nut trees from seed is a great idea and easy enough to do, given some basic information.
1. Collect fresh ripe nuts in the fall, not old dry nuts out of season. Select the best looking nuts with no obvious signs of damage. Remove any soft hulls as with black walnut or hickory.
2. Cold stratify the nuts for at least two months. A period of cold is necessary for most nuts to germinate (white oaks are one exception, germinating in the fall). In the fridge or in the ground over the winter both work well.
3. Plant the nuts in a garden bed or a permanent location and protect from rodents. Rodents will dig up and destroy nuts even after germination. Protect with pots, tree-tubes, hardware cloth...
4. Weed and mulch the seedlings. Transplant within two years of germination if necessary. Protect them from deer and give them plenty space to grow.
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