University of Vermont

Master Gardeners Host Black Walnut Cultivation Workshop

black walnuts
(photo: UVM Extension Master Gardener Program)

Ten Years ago, the Holdridge family of Westfield began planting black walnuts in a 5-acre pasture near their home. They now have about 1,000 plants in the ground at two locations. The plants vary in age from 10 years to 1 year.

On April 22, 2017 UVM Extension Master Gardener, Annie Holdridge and her husband David hosted an on-site workshop at their home. David brought the 12 attendees out to the field where he discussed the benefits and the challenges of planting black walnuts in Westfield -- for veneer, saw logs or nuts. He demonstrated proper planting techniques of a two-year old slip, which Annie had started from seed. They named these young slips Maesika Walnuts after their daughter-in-law’s family farm in central Massachusetts.

The workshop covered planting, nourishing, pruning, disease and damage impact, and marketing. The purpose of the workshop was to increase awareness of the threats and opportunities for black walnuts in the Northeast Kingdom.

Orleans County Forester Jared Nunery, from the Vermont Deptartment of Forests, Parks and Recreation, has been providing counsel and support over the last few years, and was on hand for any additional questions that arose.

Annie had a UVM-Extension Master Gardener NEK Chapter information table as well as tasting samples of black walnuts from the midwest and black walnut oil, and a delicious black walnut coffee cake to enjoy! She answered many questions concerning the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle as several attendees were concerned for their sugarbush.

Each participant received a 2-year-old black walnut slip for planting, with a garlic stick to deter browsing deer.