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John Friedrich

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since May 18, 2016
NC/VA border, piedmont
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Recent posts by John Friedrich

Estonia! (Estland)

As German-EU citizens you can live and get land there with little problem. 48% of the land is still forested, and Estonians value nature and privacy, and there are still some cultural connections with Germans. Of course eastern Poland is closer for you.
4 years ago

North American climates are not entirely comparable with Europe, but my father grew one from seed successfully on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi (technically Temperate but almost Sub-Tropical) by erecting a flimsy greenhouse of a single sheet of clear plastic on PVC frames before mid-winter.

Also further north in Raleigh NC (in the winter comparable to Central France, far warmer in the summer) I knew of a family that had a tall tree, they wrapped it entirely with pink house-insulation material every winter. Not practical commercially, but I have wanted to try it myself.
4 years ago

First post here, but I have some experience with Chinese chestnuts. Virginia/NC piedmont border. Planted the first on freshly de-pined land in 2007-9. Went in too deep with a modern drip irrigation system and grafted varieties. Almost entirely the grafts died and I was not full-time here back then, so I kind of gave up on that parcel. Came back and trained the root-sprout suckers into trees themselves. They are precocious, even as non-grafted. I now have a handful taller than me, and after receiving better care many more are chest-high and seem to be growing fine. A few get stuck as dwarves, haven't decided whether to pull them out or not.

General Cultivation tips:

Graft-union failure is a big issue that obviously nurseries would like to downplay. I will replant dead-holes with seeds from my more successful specimens.

They do not stand much weed competition early on. Landscape fabric, followed by annual or semi-annual weeding with a mattock and-or some herbicide (let us not digress on that topic, I have too many trees to do entirely by hand and get ahead on other projects, and the land/local ecology is not particularly generous)

Growing on sloping yellow clay-sand. Patches of more sand host the healthiest trees, though some on more reddish have survived to at least bush-size.

Additions of fresh wood mulch below weed fabric, along with 10-10-10 and a touch of Zinc sulfate have really made the difference this year, my first year using both. Leaves are dark green and continuing to grow. Before summer Solstice, plan to expand the mulch/fertilizer area on each. Heavy mulching might obviate the need for an irrigation system, at least in most years.

Collected seeds as soon as four or five years after planting, they are more like fruit trees than traditional 'nuts'.

No discernible pest pressure, other than deer browsing new growth. Some sort of herbivore barrier is necessary, though once their main growing is above six feet (2m) they can withstand pressure so the cages can be moved or allow to decay. A few caterpillars but not invasive and can be hand-removed at this point.

American chestnuts survive due to their suckering, same is true of chinese chestnuts. If they survive a year or more the roots are vigorous enough for them to keep growing back, and you get another chance to protect them.

Suffered in this last spring from a late frost. 70% of the mulched and caged trees at least rebudded using summer buds, look a little 'off' but are growing vigorous new tissue. 20% of the balance (the least healthiest I hadn't managed to improve) resprouted from roots, only a handful seem truly dead.

Nuts are delicious but this year I fear most of my nuts will be saved for replanting.

Aroma of blossoms is neither truly objectionable nor pleasant... no way to describe the smell without being off-color. Seem to be a good source of bee pollen if not nectar.

--Reply-- I would love to learn tips from other growers, and I have many other observations I can't think of at the moment.
4 years ago