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Bed grown Chinese Chestnuts

 
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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It was back in 2013 at an Acres USA Conference that I first heard talk of growing chestnuts from none other then Mark Shepherd. Last year I planted some in buckets from limited seed nuts that I found here on a tree locally. I put about 30 per bucket, I had a good survival rate but the seedlings did not get to big and I think it was due to the competition of being in the 5g bucket's.
This year I have stepped it up a notch! I ordered seed from http://www.redfernfarm.com/ I received about 500 F2 crosses between Chinese chestnut varieties 'Qing' and 'Auburn Super' the seed nuts were huge a it was suggested that the trees these nuts produce could have even larger nuts. This year I made a bed for the new chestnuts, they have been in the bottom of my fridge since about November. The bed is about 12" below the soil line, I filled it with peat moss, vermiculite, composted horse poo, some rabbit poo and a couple buckets of sand, I also added some of the local top soil back to the bed to try and bulk it up. The idea was I wanted to give these seedlings room to grow with out so much competition. I then marked the wood on each end and made 8 rows about 6" spacing. The bed dimensions are 6'x24"

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The bed dimensions are 6'x24
The bed dimensions are 6'x24
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I then marked the wood on each end and made 8 rows about 6 spacing
I then marked the wood on each end and made 8 rows about 6 spacing
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I filled it with peat moss, vermiculite, composted horse poo, some rabbit poo and a couple buckets of sand, I also added some of the local top soil back to the bed to try and bulk it up
I filled it with peat moss, vermiculite, composted horse poo, some rabbit poo and a couple buckets of sand, I also added some of the local top soil back to the bed to try and bulk it up
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
13
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After planting the bed we watered everything and then covered in with 1/2x1/2" hardware cloth then a 6" layer of straw, rabbit,horse and goat poo.
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After planting the bed we watered everything
After planting the bed we watered everything
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then covered in with 1/2x1/2 hardware cloth
then covered in with 1/2x1/2 hardware cloth
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then a 6 layer of straw, rabbit,horse and goat poo.
then a 6 layer of straw, rabbit,horse and goat poo.
 
Posts: 184
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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I read the first post and was going to quickly remind you to add some animal protection.
I planted leftover sprouting pecans, walnuts, and hickories willy nilly outside and found within hours the squirrels had taken them.
Looks great though. How cold will it get where you are at? Any freeze/frost protection?
 
Posts: 947
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Best animal protection I know [so long as it's not a horrible digger] is a dog fenced into the area. Sure beats messy wire mesh under mulch.
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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Thank you for pointing that out Russell that is the most important step! Unfortunately I could only up load 3 photos at a time :/

That is a great idea Kyrt but chipmunks is one of my main concerns.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 947
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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I have chipmunks. My dogs absolutely love them. Love harassing them that is.

The chipmunks aren't so fond of the dogs though.
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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UPDATE- Well Tom at Red Fern Farm were I got the seed nuts told me -"The wire covering is very important to protect the nuts not only from rodents, but even raccoons and deer--however, the squares on the hardware cloth are too small for the seedlings to grow through. If they do grow through they may be girdled by late summer, or, at the very least, severely damaged when you remove the wire. It's OK to leave the hardware cloth on for now, but you should switch to chicken wire before the seedlings start to emerge in the spring (probably April). The chicken wire isn't absolutely 100% protection, but it works pretty well for deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and even mice. You can leave the chicken wire on until the following spring when it's time to dig up the seedlings and put them in their final locations."

Now last year I grew some chestnut seedlings from some nuts I collected from a random tree I found growing at my parents land in central KY. Most of those seedlings did not get more then 1.5 ' high. I then remembered that I had purchased seedlings from Tom and planted them the same time I planted the random seeds. The trees from Tom averaged 3' high at the end of there first year!
I decided to follow Toms recommendation. So the beginning of April I removed the mulch. To my disappointment the chestnuts had sprouted and tried coming up thru the mulch! I would say all together I broke about 1/3 of the tops off removing the mulch and even more changing the wire out.
I have tried growing chestnuts from seed 4 different ways this year direct seed, 5 gal bucked, bed method, 9x4" pots. My favorite method so far for plant vigor and ease of planting would be the pot method.
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The wire covering is very important to protect the nuts not only from rodents, but even raccoons and deer
The wire covering is very important to protect the nuts not only from rodents, but even raccoons and deer
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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Notice the broken top
IMG_5810.JPG
Notice the broken top
Notice the broken top
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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Chicken wire in place
IMG_5814.JPG
Chicken wire in place
Chicken wire in place
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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Looks like something else likes to eat chestnuts as well
IMG_6039.JPG
Looks like something else likes to eat chestnuts as well
Looks like something else likes to eat chestnuts as well
 
Ken LaVere
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Kentucky near Glasgow
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So the first two photos are of the pot grown chestnuts I mentioned before. I planted the nuts in the pots around mid Feb, once the radicals had emerged. I planted about 12 out with the ones I direct seeded, we will see at the end of the year which does better. The nuts I direct seeded are at the most an inch high, the Chestnuts in pots are about 1.5' all ready we will see if they suffer any transplant shock. The roots were not bound in the slights, on some of them you could see fine white hairs at the bottom of the pot.

The last photo is of two chestnuts I seeded into 5gallon buckets, they are by far the largest!!

The yogurt cup is the big size....
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the pot grown chestnuts
the pot grown chestnuts
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I planted the nuts in the pots around mid Feb, once the radicals had emerged
I planted the nuts in the pots around mid Feb, once the radicals had emerged
IMG_1562.JPG
two chestnuts I seeded into 5gallon buckets, they are by far the largest!!
two chestnuts I seeded into 5gallon buckets, they are by far the largest!!
 
Posts: 175
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I don't know if its too late or if you even want to, but I think you should definitely get rid of that hardware cloth. Your trees are going to get pretty big this year and the cloth will girdle the stems. I grow chestnuts in similar beds and the diameter of the trees is greater than the squares in that hardware cloth at the end of the year. Good luck, I'm sure your trees will be awesome no matter what.
 
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