Sunday, October 17, 2010

Update: The Great Black Walnut Experiment

The black walnut seedlings were planted Sept. 7 to give them a chance to put down roots before winter. No soil amendments necessary.

Just barely up.
Last November we planted 14 pots of black walnuts. Having never tried to grow black walnuts before, we kept our expectations realistic. Information from the Extension Service suggested that maybe half (seven) would germinate. Well, we didn't hit the halfway mark, but we still feel pretty darn good that three did germinate.

Starting to flush.
None of the pots were coddled. They were left out in the snow and cold all winter to satisfy their stratification needs. As temperatures warmed in the spring, we checked to make sure the pots didn't dry out, but that was it. By the end of May you could see the seedlings -- hunched over but ready to pop and grow.

The three seedlings.
Black walnut (Juglans nigra) is interesting partly because it is an allelopathic plant. (Definition alert: Allelopathy refers to the ability of some plants to produce toxic substances that can affect other nearby plants. It's one way to beat competition for space, light, etc.) Black walnut produces juglone, a chemical that can be toxic to certain sensitive plants such as tomatoes. The West Virginia University Extension Service has a list of plants that are sensitive to juglone and some that are tolerant.

By July the three seedlings were green and sturdy. In September, they were ready for planting.

We chose sites back along the nature trail, put them in the ground and caged them to give them a better chance at survival. The rest is up to them.

Just planted on Sept. 7.

Now, the leaves have dropped and without the cage, you'd be hard-pressed to locate the seedling.


  1. Totally off topic I know BUT that is one big, beautiful dog.

  2. Dakota (and his handlers) thank you! I think German shepherds are among the most beautiful dogs in the world.