By Anna Sullivan, Seed Savers Albury-Wodonga
When we moved house I acquired two almond trees and a walnut tree. I didn’t think about them much in the first few months and soon learned how quickly cockatoos can strip a tree of nuts. The few nuts left behind had me yearning for more so I hit the books and the internet to learn about nut trees.
I learnt that nut trees are fairly hardy, have few pests and diseases and are unattractive to fruit fly. This is so exciting as I love my fruit trees but keeping them free of fruit fly is a constant battle.
I invested in good quality extra-large bird nets and the following summer our family enjoyed a large crop of almonds and walnuts. The almonds did well, but the walnut kernels were small and shrivelled so I must remember to water those trees more consistently next summer. The almonds and walnuts were both easy to pick or shake off the tree and once the fleshy hull was removed they dried nicely spread out on trays in the sun. Mine dried out in a few days on the rear parcel shelf in my car. Jackie French put me onto this method for drying out things such as nuts and quince paste – it works well and it’s generally ant free!
I love having a food source that stores well for the year and is a healthy snack the kids can crack open when they are hungry. Most nut trees take about 4-6 years to fruit but I think it is a worthwhile investment.
Macadamias and pistachio also grow well here on the Border. Macadamias are adaptable, they tolerate frost as well as some shade and can grow in a variety of soil types. Unfortunately they are notoriously tricky to crack, with a very hard shell. Special macadamia crackers are available but I hear a vice works better. Pistachio trees look a bit like a fig and they like it hot and dry. A male and female pistachio trees are required and close together as they rely on wind pollination. I could only find one nursery who sells them, in the Sunraysia area and they are only released in September, so get in early.
Jackie French says you can never have enough pistachios as they are so delicious and easy to eat unless you grow your own – so I am!
I recommend you do your own homework and consider nut trees in your own garden.