January 1996 - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

January 1996

Q. I have been told that applying lime around pecan trees will increase nut size. Is this true? If so, how much and how often should it be applied, or what should the pH be? Are the pH requirements the same for other nut trees?

Do English walnut trees leave toxins in the soil as black walnuts do? Can an old English walnut be replaced with a young one at the same site?

I have some locally grown Chinese chestnuts (seeds). How and when can I plant them? – Randy Wellmeyer, Huntington, IN

A. Lime will help only if the pecans are in a very acidic soil. A soil test will determine if liming is necessary as well as if any nutrients that can impact nut size are deficient. Pecan trees prefer a soil pH of 5.8 to 7.0, as do walnuts. Chestnuts like a soil that is slightly acidic and do not tolerate an alkaline soil.

English walnuts do not have the high levels of juglone (the chemical that causes nearby plants to suffer) like the black walnut, unless the English walnut is grafted to a black walnut root stock. English walnuts usually die due to cold temperatures and have few diseases, so it is probably safe to replant in the same area. It’s usually good garden practice to replant in a different area just in case diseases or insects are present or the site was not conducive to that plant’s success.

Gather Chinese chestnuts as soon as they fall and keep in moist storage for one or two months at 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Store them in a tight tin can with one or two very small holes for ventilation. Plant the chestnuts in early spring and keep the squirrels away.


Q After chestnuts fall out of the pod, how long do you let them dry? After they dry, how long do you roast them before you can eat them? – Arthur Beck, French Lick, IN

A Chestnuts should always be kept moist. Store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Before roasting, pierce each nut with a sharp knife and place the nuts on a cookie sheet with a small amount of oil. Roast at 450 F for 10 to 15 minutes.


Q Can pawpaw trees be planted from seed? If so, should they be planted in the fall or the spring? Would it be better to dig up a small tree from the woods and replant it or to buy from a nursery? – Virgil Nicholas, Indianapolis, IN

A Pawpaws are difficult to transplant. Bareroot divisions from pawpaw thickets rarely survive, so look for small plants grown in containers. By purchasing nursery stock you can select a named cultivar and get fruit sooner than from seed. It is easy to raise the trees from seed, however. Break the seed dormancy by planting outdoors in the fall, or stratify the seeds by placing them in moist vermiculite or sand in the refrigerator for 60 to 90 days. Sow the seeds in their permanent locations and protect from direct sun. Germination may be inconsistent.


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