In this Issue...
Art Read - Our Financial Wizard
As you know by now, Art has retired from his long held post as ECSONG Treasurer. For myself, and on behalf of all ECSONG folks past and present, I thank Art for his many years of stalwart service.
Art first became our Treasurer way back in 1987. He held the post continuously until 2003. That is 17 years of unflagging service to the ECSONG cause! Whenever asked, Art would always have needed numbers at his fingertips, so fiscal questions got immediate answers. Because of Art's fiscal skills and diligence, managing ECSONG's affairs was made so much easier and productive.
Art was always meticulous in his bookkeeping, accounting and fiscal advice, so much so that he made the task seem almost elementary. He was steady at the helm.
But even more, Art kept a watchful on our membership roll. As we all know, overlooking that our membership fee is due is all too easy to do. Art kept a close eye on our delinquency by taking the time to remind us each and every one that the time was right to re-invest in ECSONG. Without Art's diligence our membership might well have flagged. More so, it is clear in a major part that because of Art the membership grew considerably during the years of his tenure.
And that is not all, by any means. Recognizing that our treasury was accumulating, he convinced ECSONG to invest its funds in a high interest account, the return from which has kept our funds growing further. He proved that "a penny earned is a penny saved" - this is fiscal innovation! Art made the treasury grow so much, ECSONG might well be seen by some as an organization with an embarrassment of riches! However, ECSONG is now in an even stronger position to invest even more successfully to further nutculture in the region.
We all owe Art much for making our financial affairs so reliable, steady and sure. I for one hope that Art continues his membership in ECSONG in the years to come. I am sure his advice and guidance will frequently be sought and most certainly welcomed. And of course his company enjoyed by all.
Many thanks, Art, from each and every one of us, for a job superbly done!
As usual, there are lots of spring activities in our nut groves. Lots of chances to meet old and new friends, to learn about nut tree growing, even just to enjoy the great outdoors in the most special setting of all - among healthy nut trees. If you are new to ECSONG, our spring field days are the place to be! And, if you know of a high school student who needs some more volunteer hours to graduate, ECSONG can sign them off.
Our spring begins with a seedling transplant day at the Dolman Ridge. World famous as a RAMSAR-designated site, it is home to 385 ha of trees planted about 1970 by Forestry Canada. ECSONG is extending the plantations with other native species that would have lived on the ridge before it was cleared for agriculture in the mid-1800's. Several hundred Black oak and Pin oak seedlings have been growing in our nursery for two years. It's time for them to be moved to the ridge. We meet at the corner of Anderson Road and Dolman Ridge Road. Bring a small shovel if you can - the coordinator will arrange the rest.
The next day, Sunday 25 April, Oak Valley will be for transplanting nursery stock, mainly hazels for sale and for use as screening at the plantation. Also some black walnut, oak and catalpa. These will help us raise funds or purchase some stock, all for raising funding for Oak Valley.
On 1 May, Peter Goddard will lead work at the FRP Grove, our oldest. Besides the usual light raking of mulch and repairing of winter damage, a group of American Chestnut seedlings from the Dolman Ridge will be planted near the pond, and a nursery area readied for fall planting. Call Peter at 489-3592 for details.
In early May, the Lavant team will be walking more areas around the main site to locate any outlying shagbarks. Call Jim Ronson, 264-1937 to join in studying this site, unique in the world.
In early June, the Lavant team will be starting the detailed surveys needed to show how special this site is, and to provide details for the MNR management plan. We already have a survey solely of the shagbarks. 16 representative sample plots, one per hectare, each 4m by 50m, are now to be selected and described in detail - every tree, their diameters, crown height, soil texture and depth, shrub and herbaceous cover. If you want to learn about any aspect of doing a botanical survey, join us. If you know how to use a plant guide or evaluate soil samples, we'd greatly appreciate your help. We meet at the Hopetown General Store at 10 am.
On 12 June, Oak Valley work will focus on cutting branches on the pines to increase air circulation and reduce blister rust. Other routine projects include cleaning up the nursery and flower gardens, updating the inventory of special cultivar plantings from 1993, and updating the tree survey of the plantation, especially the butternut archive trees.
Neil Thomas is planning a black walnut Field Day in early fall. His farm is the most advanced in eastern Ontario to becoming a commercial nut producer. To be notified when a date is chosen, call him at 659-3807, or watch the ecsong.ca Events page.
We hope to have a visit to the only Bear Oak site in Canada, near Tamworth ON, at nut collecting time. This requires someone able to coordinate water transport, so if you have a canoe or similar car-top watercraft, you will be doubly welcome! Call Ken if you can help.
A Nutters' Bus Tour?
We hope to have a Nutters' Bus tour this fall, but so far do not have a coordinator. If you are willing to help, please call Ken: 722-8510
In 1993, we visited Kemptville College, Prescott, Larue Mills, Howe Ferry Gananoque, Mohawk Reserve Desoronto. 1996: Dolman Ridge, Glengary Park Lancaster, Source Wood Products Cornwall, Sheik Island Akwasasne, Oak Valley, Fillmore R. Park. 1998: Vincent Massey Park, Chesterville Black Walnuts, Glengarry Park Lancaster, Long Sault Parkway, Oak Valley. 2001: Vincent Massey Park, Kemptville College, a Smiths Falls' park, Newboro's Lorne Park, Foley Mountain, Charleston Lake County Park, Don Maclean's shagbark hickory.
A few sites not yet visited: the Aylmer shagbarks, the Lanark shagbarks, the black walnuts at Island Park south of Carling, the black walnuts on Lemiex Island, Neil Thomas' plantation ...
Other suggestions? Call the editor! (who also maintains Inventree)
ECSONG Website News
For those with access to the Internet, ecsong.ca is the place to be! Up-to-date events, our history, our nut groves, our past issues, Inventree, our Nut Growers' Manual, our Cookbook, our Marketplace for nut seedlings ... it's all there for you.
Recently, the Inventree page has been updated with the information required to report new nut trees in our region. We invite all members to report any healthy nut trees in eastern Ontario that are not on the list.
Len Collett's photos on living with deer are up, and we have our first ever articles in French, by Bernard Contré on the nut trees of the Morgan Arboretum and on beaked hazel selections. (English versions appear in the Nuttery.)
During March 2004, the site had about 300 visitors. The pages most often looked at were our list of species suitable for growing here, our cookbook, and Mary Ann Riley's article on bur oak. Close behind were our Marketplace, the description of our groves, and "What is a nut?". On average, each visitor looked at 12 of our pages.
The next web page project is on nut crackers - specifically those that can handle our delicious black walnuts. We know of the elaborate Potter cracker, Hank's elegant nippers, Bernard's compound lever, machinists' vises, strap crackers, sharp axes, and Hammonds' rollers ... Any others?
Keep in touch - a click of a mouse is all it takes!
Living with Deer
The population of white-tailed deer in the Ottawa Valley is exploding. The Bambi complex that has led the new City of Ottawa to ban all hunting within its entire 64 km by 86 km area, outdated provincial hunting regulations designed to maximize the population of deer rather than to control it, and the elimination of natural deer predators have led to major problems for any farmers growing crops that deer will eat. Especially, tree farmers.
At our winter meeting, Len Collett presented the most cost-effective defense of a tree farm that we know of.
Picturesque 150-year-old cedar fences just don't work! Deer routinely jump 6' fences, and in a pinch can clear 8'. Chain link is impossibly expensive. But, horizontal 1"x2" boards spaced 1' apart to a height of 8' are affordable if, as Len does, you have access to a local small-scale sawmill and tree culls too small to interest commercial operations. The open construction allows wind and snow to blow through, so it does not need to be as strong as a solid fence.
Of course, all entrances to the property must be guarded, including front gates, no matter how exposed.
Inside the slat fence, backup is required.
1" chicken wire works well for hedges. For trees, begin with a circle of good farm fence, strong enough to withstand the force of bucks cleaning their antlers. A stake or two helps to keep it upright and clear of the tree. Then, add a layer of chicken wire above the fence, to keep teeth away from the leader and branches.
It's too expensive and time-consuming for most farm operations, but for the grower of high-value nut trees, it seems the only way to go in deer country. At least, until we come to our senses and allow the use of excess deer as high quality food for people, or promote the restoration of natural deer predators such as wolf and cougar.
See Len's photos on the ECSONG web site (ecsong.ca - Publications - Living with Deer).
Selections of Beaked Hazel
Beaked hazel is widespread throughout Canada, especially in the East where it is common, such as the Saguenay, Gaspé peninsula and New Brunswick. The species has some economic value for the harvest and sale of fresh nuts when abundant.
This native shrub is also used for naturalisation. A fruit tree specialist of the region of Lake St-Jean, Nicol Côté, explains his experiments and results with it.
"Beaked hazel is native in this region but in agricultural areas is confined to untended places and along fences. The flavour of the kernel is very good. I have a woodlot of 30 acres and this hazel is present. I noted there by 1980 a specimen which had nuts larger than average. I sowed the largest for their size and form and obtained a hundred seedlings which began to produce nuts by 1988. Of the lot, I selected 3 specimens which are now cultivated in one well maintained garden. The size of fruits is maybe better under cultivation. I have 2 selections under names "Belle Rivière 1,2" which have nuts double the size of the native species. Agriculture Canada has a clone, also Jardins Maria-Chapdelaine which tries to propagate tissue culture. This method of reproduction is very difficult with hazels. For my part, I tried to root soft wood and hard wood cuttings but unsuccessfully. This spring, I am going to cut them to ground level to promote young spouts for layering afterward."
The Lac-St-Jean and Saguenay regions are considered zone 3a according to Agriculture-Canada. The presence of the lake and the humidity produces slow springs but late autumns. This allows tree growth more like zone 4 or 5. There are more nut trees which Mr Côté grows in his collection:
"On my site, I planted some hybrid walnuts 'Buartnut'. The seedlings have fast growth but are a little less hardy than butternut. This last was introduced into our region by monastic communities from the beginning of European settlement. The butternut is now naturalized but it is recommended to plant only in the best sites: rich and deep soils and shelter from late frosts of spring.
I have some black walnuts, one from Morden Manitoba is 25 years old and produces every year but it is necessary to collect nuts as soon as they fall to protect them from the frost around middle of October. The others are from the Joly-de-Lotbinière region and from Ernie Grimo. I consider however the potential of the black walnut very limited for my region. I planted also some hickories (Carya ovata and C. cordiformis), they are about 3 m high but do not yet produce.
Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is also introduced here and its growth is fast and produces many acorns. I have a specimen from Saskatchewan, the shape is shrubby and produces a lot every year. Its acorns are very small and mature toward the end in August.
Besides these, Corylus americana is hardy here but I find it less interesting than C.cornuta. 10 years ago I planted 2 C.heterophylla from Grimo Nut Nursery. They are very hardy and produce every year nuts of excellent flavour."
For more information on this, and also about 40 fruit trees propagated by Nicol Côté for cold areas such as hazel, plum, pear and apple trees, contact him at 418-345-2696
My Heartnut Trees
In 1992 I planted 3 heartnut trees bought from Windmill Point nursery in Montreal as 1 year old seedlings. They have survived and 2 trees are 16½' high while the other is 14' high due to being run over by my lawn mower early on after being planted. The trees have not set seed yet but I am hoping this year maybe. The cultivar I planted is called Bates and Callander.
I do have a problem with an unknown bug boring into the stems of new growth where they intersect with the main trunks. Also these trees turned out to be multi-trunked and are growing in clay soil, sort of sheltered. As far as I know no one else seems to have them growing in this area. One winter a few years ago there was die back, but none since.
ECSONG - Our Future
In the last issue, Hank opened the issue of increasing funding for ECSONG programs by restricting access to the information we have developed over the last 25 years to those who pay for it. In particular, he raised the spectre that, if we did not provide value to paid-up members, we might soon have none.
We ECSONGers are a mixed group of people!
Some of us are scientists, bound to the principle that solely free public information can be the basis of true progress. Scientists require that credit for a new idea go to those who first publish it, open to the examination of all. Not only do scientists not charge for articles they submit to refereed journals, they often persuade their institutions to pay page charges for the privilege. We referee papers, even act as subject editors, at no charge. Once a library pays for the printing costs of a copy of a journal, those articles are available freely to all who visit.
Some of us are tree huggers and planters - we will be happy as long as nut trees grow around us. We're the ones who come out to field days when thunderstorms are forecast, or in frigid early spring when our precious seedlings are still dormant and can be safely transplanted.
Some of us are content to maintain contacts with longstanding friends. There are a lot of fine and fascinating people among our members.
Some are content to support an activity, and need no other encouragement. We have several members who have never appeared at a physical event.
So, there are values that ECSONG can give, without requiring that people pay for information per se.
And so it is that I recommend that ECSONG continue to make all its information as freely available as possible. Our web site, ecsong.ca, costs us $110 per year. (This could be reduced to almost zero by making us a subdomain.) Once our information is on the web, everyone in the world can access it, can spread interest in nut tree growing and nut products, without any additional expense to us.
Of course, we can continue to recover costs from those who wish printed copies of our cookbook, growers' manual, or Nuttery. This might best be done through Cobjon, which is set up to make money from our fledgling nut industry.
Many years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "he who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."
As a member of ECSONG, what do you think? Please write us!
AGM Coffee Shop
The AGM noon hour featured hazelnut-pumpkin and walnut- pumpkin breads baked by John Adams, a walnut-banana cake by Irene Broad, a chestnut-radish pesto by John Sankey, and Ottawa ginkgo nuts supplied by Hank Jones. Many thanks to John Adams for looking after the coffee supplies.
An Overseas Correspondent
The Nuttery is going international! John Adams has a contract to advise the Chinese on geological matters in Liaoning Province (150 kms south of the city of Shenyang), and has agreed to be our first ever overseas correspondent. We know he will find nut pines, but - what else? Find out in our next issue! (Renew your membership now, if you have not already done so!)
Trees need a balanced diet too!
Pecan trees that don't absorb enough nickel from the soil are prone to a disease, called mouse-ear, that causes abnormal tree growth and development, Agricultural Research Service scientists in Byron, Ga., have discovered. Other heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium and copper compete with nickel for uptake channels in the feeder roots of the pecan tree, so mouse-ear disease can occur in trees growing in nickel-abundant soil. Severe mouse-ear most commonly occurs in the southern Georgia sector of the U.S. pecan belt, but is also found throughout much of the Gulf Coast Coastal Plain. A yearly foliar spray containing nickel solves the problem.
ECSONG Executive Meeting
On 7 April, the ECSONG executive met at the RVCA boardroom, Manotick: chair Ken Farr, vice-chair John Adams, secretary Jim Ronson and treasurer Roman Popadiouk; Cliff Craig, Murray Inch, Hank Jones and John Sankey were also present. We discussed an appreciation of Art Read, the transferral of the treasurer's duties, Nuttery and website issues, field day preparations, an agreement with the Ottawa Botanical Garden and Friends of the Farm re nut trees of the Dominion Arboretum, expanding Inventree and the inventory of our nut groves, our permit to collect nuts on NCC lands and to manage the Dolman Ridge site, a members' handbook, the agreement with MNR re the Lavant shagbark site, how to expand our interest to younger potential members, an agreement with Murray Inch to expand the Oak Valley Nursery on his land, mileage allowance for distant executive members, and to what extent ECSONG should charge for its publications. A busy but productive start to a new growing season.
Provided by ECSONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.