Walnuts Galore

October 6th, 2008

Have you ever picked up walnuts off the ground?  Real walnuts that have just fallen from a tree?  We’ve got several of these trees around the property and with all the moisture this year there are tons and tons of the nuts all over the ground.  Last week they were all on the tree still, but all of a sudden they started dropping everywhere.  Here’s one of the trees with a few still clinging to the branches.  I kept trying to catch one… doesn’t work.  I found out if you stare at them they don’t drop off the tree.  But the minute you turn your back, “Thump!” one hits the ground. 

Walnuts hanging on the tree in October

In the past I’ve just let them lie on the ground for the squirrels and other animals to eat.  But the squirrels must have plenty of other forage because they’re not that interested this year.  And with so many on the ground it’s difficult to cut the grass as they can really be hard on lawnmower blades.  So we’ve been picking up many of them… this small trash can is only half the crop from one of the trees.  I had a contest with the boy for who could find more of them… and darn it all, he beat me.  And the yellow lab has to help too, running around grabbing them and bringing them to us, all slobbery of course.

Fresh walnuts collected off the ground

The nuts have this heavy but soft outer husk that peels off, and then the hard shell inside encasing the walnut meat itself.  One thing I’ve read is not to save the outer husks or compost them.  Walnut trees have a chemical compound called “juglone” that the tree gives off and it inhibits growth of other plants nearby.  The husks of the nuts also contain juglone, so composting them would not be helpful to the garden next year!   

Once cracked open, the walnut meat tastes pretty good. But I’m not sure I have the patience to really shell them all.  Maybe save them for those cold winter days coming up.  One of these days we’ll plant a pecan or chestnut tree also, but I better start soon since it probably takes quite a few years to produce a large harvest. We’ll see, but for now it’s time to get outside and put up a little more firewood.  Have a great day.

8 Responses to “Walnuts Galore”

  1. Are those walnuts or hickory nuts? They look similar, but hickory nuts have a more wrinkled shell and the black stuff inside the husk stains your hands something fierce. When I was a kid, our neighbor’s property was lousy with the things and he, an old, never-waste-anything German, used to spend days and days shelling them. His hands were black stained for months.


  2. Gosh, our weekends were eerily similar. My little girl and I spent time picking up walnuts at my parents place. She loved finding them and I couldn’t help but wonder how long this would last. Your boy is a couple years older so I have at least a couple more years.

    Fortunately, my grandparents are retired and apparently enjoy picking out the meat in the evenings at whatever campground they happen to be in with their RV. I always get a gallon sized ziplock full of the results that we use up in our winter baking. I always feel guilty enough to give them something with the walnuts in them when they are passing by on their way south.

    R. Sherman – The walnuts we have up here will stain your hands too but have a different outer shell and definitely a different inner shell so they can’t be mistake with the walnut.

  3. Yes, walnuts- but you’re right, the hickory trees are loaded too. Days and days shelling walnuts?! Arggh… I hope I always have better things to do, especially if it stains that bad :) Ed- That’s very cool… mine is still very young at heart, he just turned 8. But I’ve noticed that so much of the innocence and wonder is changing to a wry, knowing smile or a questioning urge for answers. He puts up with his Dad’s little games for now. I wonder how many walnuts it takes to make a gallon size ziplock!

  4. Jim

    They look like black walnuts…fantastic for baking. It gives a different dimension to your product…especially carrot cake. Also that ‘black stain’ is what gives the husks their vermifuge properties…if your intestines need them:) The green shell will harden around the nuts if not removed. What a great resource for your property.
    Also the juglone diminishes the growth of only certain plants….not everything.
    Enjoy your site.

  5. Hi Jim- Thanks so much for the insight… think I’ll get to removing those husks! Now that you mention it, I have had some herbal drinks with black walnut husk extract in them, and read it was good for cleaning out the “insides”. Now I know why… :)

  6. A man I know lines the walnuts up on his driveway and then drives his truck over them to crack them open. I suppose it crushes the meat some, but it probably works find for baking and such.

    I suppose you know you can order very inexpensive pecan trees from the Missouri Department of Conservation. The order form should be coming online next month.

  7. Hi Pablo- Interesting idea about the walnuts- must make a mess :) I didn’t notice the pecan trees last year- I’ll have to get some, thanks!

  8. Those are neat. Never knew they grew like that. My kids love cracking nut shells open!

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