David's Blog

Living a quiet life in Coquitlam, B.C.

Location: Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Black Walnut Trees Sprouting

I am making a little detour with this post, it is not on a topic related to anything I usually write about.

This summer I spent some time in the back yard, working in the garden, cleaning up, trimming, planting plants, hauling around soil and fertilizer, etc. One of the plants I am taking a particular interest in is walnut trees.

In addition to the (unknown type) walnut trees planted by local squirrels, I planted some Black Walnut trees. I found a grove of Black Walnut trees and picked up some of the walnuts laying on top of the ground from last year's crop. Since they were from last year, they had already been through the cold temperature stratification and should germinate once put in the ground. They were put in a bucket of water overnight. The ones that floated were thrown out as non-viable and the ones that remained on the bottom of the bucket were put in small peat pots or planters.

Since I didn't know ahead of time which nuts would sprout, I put the nuts in small planter pots like the following:

These ones are plastic cubic plant pots about 3-1/2" on a side. The nut was planted about 1" down.

I didn't expect much until next spring. But . . . several sprouted! And they grow pretty fast! One afternoon I check on them and there is nothing. The next afternoon, there is a young sprout coming out, bent over like a bean sprout, but red. And the leaves of the new trees look nothing like the mature trees. As soon as they sprout, they are put in bigger pots (five gallon planter pots.) They are easy to transplant; the entire plant and cube of soil slides out of the small plastic pots easily and the trees don't seem to be affected when they are transplanted. Perhaps that is because they are transplanted within a day of their shoot peeking above the ground. Following are some photos.

Here is one about one week old:

Here is one about ten days old:

Here is one about 21 days old:

Here is one about 23 days old:

It is very satisfying watching them grow. The big test now will be if they survive the upcoming winter. It is not expected to be too cold but, once they lose their leaves and go dormant, they will be moved against the house, which should provide some extra protection.

Update: 6 October 2019
I went back to the Black Walnut grove and picked up some nuts from this year. Following is a photo of nuts with and without the husk. Note that the Black Walnut husk is very close to being a perfect sphere, like a miniature green basketball. The size can vary quite a lot and so can the colour; some are very green while others a lot more yellow. Inside the husk is the nut itself. Again, it is quite round--and black.

These seeds haven't gone through the cold temperature stratification process yet, so I have put them in a pot, covered it with soil, and put a mesh on top of it to protect the nuts from squirrels. This upcoming spring, I will move them to individual little pots and, as they germinate, move them to individual pots. I hope to update this post to track the growth of the trees.

Update: 22 March 2020
Today, I transferred some Black Walnuts into individual 5" peat pots. Several of them have already sprouted, so I could have actually done the transfer a week or two earlier. Here is a photo of one of the sprouts:

Note that the leaf is just starting to come out of the nut but the tap root has already grown quite a bit. This feature is good to keep in mind (to ensure the sprouts have a sufficiently-large pot in which to grow): by the time a walnut's leaves poke above the soil, its root has already grown down significantly.

5 October 2020
Here it is at about five months old:

The stem of this tree is about eleven inches tall. The leaves are about to change colour and fall off, so this is about as much as this tree will grow in its first year.

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