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Walnut trees may be tall, but they can produce a good crop of delicious nuts in a large garden. Grafted trees begin cropping after about four years and established trees are largely trouble free.
The nuts develop in a pitted shell surrounded by a fibrous, leathery casing which splits when the nuts ripen in autumn. Nuts can be eaten at this stage but tend to have a rubbery texture. Usually it is better to dry them which will also mean they keep well. Dry the nuts as follows;
In cooler areas, the nuts may not fully ripen. These can be pickled at the green stage but before the outer casing begins to toughen.
Harvesting walnuts at the later stage when their outer husks have softened and blackened is not recommended as this can taint the flavour of the inner nut.
Walnut trees can be grown with a central leader. Alternatively, prune to encourage the production of side shoots by removing the leader - this also restricts the size of the tree. The side shoots should be pinched at the fifth or sixth leaf to encourage the tree to bush. Regular pruning is unnecessary but, if required, remove dead or crossed branches. Pruning should be undertaken between mid-summer and early autumn as walnuts are prone to 'bleeding' (sap oozing from the pruning cut). Hard pruning is not tolerated.
'Broadview': disease resistant, relatively slow growing and compact habit, producing a heavy crop of good quality, medium sized nuts after three years. Partially self-fertile but crops better if cross-pollinated.
'Buccaneer': disease resistant, fast growing and upright with good quality, medium sized nuts by a lighter crop than 'Broadview'. Self-fertile and bears after four years
'Lara': disease resistant, newer cultivar with heavy crop of large nuts on a moderately vigorous tree
Walnuts without the wait describes the disease resistance, quality of the nuts and the pollination groups for a wide range of cultivars.
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Walnuts are largely pest and disease free but may suffer from the following;
Walnuts secrete chemicals into the soil which inhibit other plants. This is known as allelopathy. However, the effect is more discernable from Juglans nigra (black walnut) than J. regia (common or English walnut). Tomatoes and apples are said to be especially affected.
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