2017 – Year in Review

In addition to regular maintenance of the field trees, again this year I sprouted some some pecan seed nuts and Chinese chestnut seed nuts and grew them in pots. In November I transferred the potted trees to a straw bale fort and covered them with mulch to protect them during the cold winter months. I should have taken better care of them because some died during the hot weather.

Although I did not get around to putting up new fencing along the road, I did paint the roof of the metal building again. And, of course the weeds had to be mowed a few times.

During October and November I planted 52 trees and bushes into the fields as follows:

18 black walnut trees(4 grafted)
  8 Chinese chestnut trees(4 grafted)
  3 shellbark hickory trees
13 pecan trees(2 grafted)

2 persimmon trees
2 paw paw trees
2 chokecherry bushes

2 hazelnut bushes
2 nanking cherry bushes

During the last couple of years I have planted various types of seeds in an effort to learn more about cover crops. The cereal rye that I planted in the Fall of 2016 grew up to six feet tall and produced very large amounts of bio-mass that when rolled down blocked out weeds for many weeks and some straw still remains on the soil surface. The vines of hairy vetch were very thick but they decompose more quickly after dying. During last Summer I also planted some test strips of buckwheat, pearl millet, sunflowers, sudangrass, and flax just to see what they look like and how they grow. One of my goals is to improve the soil by trying to generate six feet of topsoil around the growing trees.

Also during the Summer I planted some mixes of covers composed of a grass, a legume, a broad leaf. The grasses were sudangrass and pearl millet, the legumes were cow peas and black soybeans, and the broad leaves were sunflowers and buckwheat. I did not get very good stands. I need to do a better job of uprooting any fescue before planting. In August I sowed some Daikon radish seeds close in around the pecan trees. Interestingly, around the young pecan trees the radish grew well and produced one to two inch diameter roots, but, around the older pecan trees the seeds barely sprouted.

In the Spring twin fauns were apparently born on my property. Over the Summer as I was out and about, I would often rouse them from their daytime hiding places. This Fall while I would be planting trees in one rather isolated field, they would come out of the adjacent woods and browse the Winter rye that that I had planted there. One time when I looked up from digging, one of the was about 60 feet away. While I rested, it walked up to about 30 feet from me. Although I saw them in mid-December, I wonder if they will survive through January.

Cover Test Strips

Various seeds were sown in test strips to see how they grow.  In the following picture the strips from right to left are:

– Buckwheat (already dropped blooms)

–  Pearl Millet

– Sunflowers

–  Sudangrass

– flax(hidden behind the sudangrass)

The shorter flax is hidden by the row of sudangrass. Here is a picture of the pretty blue flax blooms:

All test strips were sown on July 12. The buckwheat started blooming after 30 days. After 59 days the sunflowers were in peak bloom.

and the butterflies, bees, etc were all around

Here is the strip of pearl millet.


Here is the strip of buckwheat after the blooms are gone.


Crawler Unknown

In September while harvesting chestnuts a few worms/caterpillars like the one in the following picture were sighted in the trees.  Without knowing what it is, I wonder what effect, if any, it might have on the chestnut trees and the burrs that contain the nuts.

Deer Pruning Assistance

In the Fall of 2012 I planted some fragrant sumac bushes on a hillside. Every year since then the local deer insist on pruning the bushes without asking me first. Here is some of their handy work this Fall.

I place three foot diameter fencing rings around the pecan and chestnut trees to discourage them from helping me prune. Yet despite the efforts of the deer the sumac bushes have come back every Spring to play the game again.