Happy Thanksgiving. One Thanksgiving food I'll always remember when growing up is nuts. I can see my dad there, cracking away on the walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and other assorted nuts before dinner. For some reason, Thanksgiving was a special nut eating time for him.
So in honor of dad, I thought to talk about not eating nuts, but growing them. And we can in Connecticut. Nut trees not only are good for us, they are good for the land and wildlife. Nut trees are legacy plants lasting for generations. We have an ancient shagbark hickory tree that is a focal point of our yard.
There are many types of nut trees that can grow in Connecticut. Heartnut is a type of black walnut. It's a variety of Japanese walnut that's hardy and has nuts that are easy to crack with a buttery flavor. Plus, it doesn't stain or produce juglone chemical of black walnuts that inhibit the growth of other plants around it.
Shagbark and Shellbark hickories are hardy trees that can take some wet soils. The nuts have a mild walnuty flavor. While American and European chestnuts can get some dreaded diseases, the Chinese and Japanese hybrids are disease resistant and produce tasty, although very perishable, nuts.
Grow nut trees in full sun on well-drained soil. Think of the ultimate size of your trees when planting to give them enough space. Seedling trees are later producing with unknown nut quality, but cheaper. While cultivars are more expensive, but produce consistent quality nuts, sooner. Keep a mulch ring 3 to 4 feet around the trunk and protect young trees from deer.