I've got a small (1/4 acre) yard in urban Seattle, and have always wanted to grow a chestnut, well, because we can, and I feel like it's a shame to pass the opportunity up. However, being a Seattlite, I've got to be frugal with sunlight, and the prospect of planting a 60 foot tall, 30 foot wide tree seems like a ridiculous move in this regard.
Chinkapin http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CAPU9 is an option, but with three significant problems. First, it's nuts are about 1/2 - 1/4 the size of a chestnut, which is fine, but means a significant hit in production. Second, Chinkapin is a shrubbish thing which doesn't lend itself optimally to being an anchor plant in a guild (but could certainly be a part of something else useful).
Most problematically, Chinkapin can host the chestnut blight fungus, and I can't find a source for plants west of the rockies -- and I'd really rather not be the one who brings the fungus to seattle!!!
So, after reading this article http://www.chestnutsonline.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1099 and finding reference to grafting of chestnut scions onto oak rootstocks, I started wondering whether you might be able to create a dwarf chestnut through grafting. There are now many cultivars of chestnut which are blight resistant, and so can be valuable to permaculturalists east of the rockies. However, there hasn't been much exploration of variation in these awesome trees other than in producing resistance along with palatable nuts.
I'm going to do some experiments this winter with whatever saplings I can find around seattle, but if anyone has suggestions, or have had success in the past, I'd love to hear about it.
Joined: May 23, 2010
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
Cool about grafting to oak.
Japanese chestnuts tend to be much smaller plants, maybe 30ft vs. 60ft for some chestnuts. Japanese chestnuts are plenty productive with large, delicious nuts. In addition, they are well adapted to humid temperate climate.
The ones I've seen on Spanish chesnuts were not small. Some of the Asian chesnuts are small trees ... I would graft on those to reduce size and leave oak grafting to high ph areas, quite dry areas etc ...