Posts Tagged ‘Nuts’

Planting Almond Trees

Almond Trees Just took delivery of the first trees for the forest section of our eco-house garden.  These have a dual purpose – they’re also the trees we’re planting for the littlie’s naming day we’re having on the weekend. These are Almond trees – Prunus Dulcis ‘Robijn’. And apparently we can expect them to fruit, even up here in chilly wet Manchester. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I think we will need to get some sun to get reliable fruit on them. This particular variety don’t flower until May so if they’re in a nice, south-facing sheltered area the flowers should avoid frost and therefore survive to fruit. And just in case I’m wondering what those Almonds would look like – there is one on each tree!

An Almond Another Almond

They’re pretty impressive trees – probably about 180 cm tall already, lots of nicely pruned branches. It’s been quite hard getting tham at this time of year (most of the trees we’ll get will go in bare-rooted in November time) but we found these potted trees at Flora Select and they have been really helpful all the way through the process and delivered them on the day they said they would. Here’s the info they have on these trees:

Prunus dulcis is a small bushy deciduous tree native to Asia and North Africa having pretty pink blossoms and highly prized edible nuts enclosed in a hard green hull.
Fruiting will start two to three years after planting. The flesh of the fruit can be eaten as Almonds are closley related to Peaches and Nectarines.

Plant in well drained fertile soil. Avoid heavy pruning as Almonds flower on second year wood.

  • Eventual Height: 4 mts
  • Eventual Spread: 4 mts
  • Full Sun
  • Deciduous
  • Fragrant
  • Flowering Time: April-May

Now I just have to dig the holes ready for the planting to happen at the Naming Day party on Sunday! That’ll be fun.

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Hazel Nuts in Edible Hedges

hazelnut I’m thinking that every part of our garden has to “pay its way” and that a standard privet hedge just doesn’t contribute enough to merit consideration. So I’ve been looking at edible hedges, and the one plant that really stands out for me for this is the Hazelnut (or Cob nut or Filbert) they can be kept down to hedge height and should produce a dense hedge with flowers and – obviously – copious supplies of delicious and nutritious nuts which will store well. They seem to be freely available, with dozens of varieties listed at online nurseries, and they don’t seem to be too hard to grow. There’s a good introductory article from The Times on popular trees for a small garden and here is the guidance from Blackmoor Nurseries:

Cobnut trees are hardy and grow well on a wide range of soils except those that are waterlogged, but like all plants they grow best in soil conditions that suit them.

They prefer a good friable topsoil overlying a free draining substrate. A soil that is too fertile will tend to produce trees with excessive vigour, which will not crop well. However, it is still possible to grow reasonably sized and cropping trees on stony ground as long as there is sufficient soil and good drainage.

Cobnuts are largely self sterile – the pollen from a given variety cannot pollinate the same variety. If you live in the countryside where there are plenty of wild hazels nearby, then these will probably pollinate your trees.

A neutral to alkaline soil is ideal, but cobnuts also grow well in more acid soils.

Trees are sold online bare-rooted when dormant (usually between Nov-March). I’ve missed my chance for this year, but the nurseries start taking orders from April, so once I’ve got my head around the different varieties I’ll get on and order some.

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Eating Acorns

I never thought life would get this bad 🙂 but I’ve been looking for a resilient alternative to Wheat, as I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be able to grow enough in our garden to feed my Wholemeal Bread habit. 

Prompted by an article written by Janaia from Peak Moment called “Make Like a Squirrel” I’ve found out that you can eat acorns (after quite a lot of preparation!) They were a key food for Native Americans, and can be incorporated into a range of dishes including bread. The most comprehensive srticle I’ve found is one from Peggy Spring at the San Antonio Natural Area Parks, who suggest these recipes:

 

Steamed Acorn Black Bread 
Mix together: 
1 1/2 cups Acorn Meal 
1/2 cup Acorn Grits 
1 cup white flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
Add: 
1/2 cup dark molasses 
1 1/2 cups sour milk 
2 tablespoons salad oil 

Wring out a pudding cloth in boiling water, spread it in a round bottom bowl and turn the batter into it. Tie the corners and suspend the bag over boiling water in a closed kettle for 4 hours. This should be served hot from the bag, and a steaming slab of this rich, dark, moist bread is just right with a plate of baked beans.


Apache Acorn Cakes 

1 cup acorn meal, ground fine 
1 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup honey 
pinch of salt 

Mix the ingredients with enough warm water to make a moist, not sticky dough. Divide into 12 balls. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so. With slightly moist hands, pat the balls down into thick tortilla-shaped breads. Bake on an ungreased cast iron griddle over campfire coals or on clean large rocks, propped up slightly before the coals. If using the stones, have them hot when you place the cakes on them. You’ll have to lightly peel an edge to peek and see if they are done. They will be slightly brown. Turn them over and bake on the other side, if necessary.

I can’t see these being a staple of our diet any time soon – but I’m dying to give this a go. I’d better keep an eye out for local oaks.