Native to eastern United States, black walnut trees are slow-growing but long lasting trees that usually bear delicious nuts after ten years. These trees are renowned for valuable wood and nuts that are mostly used for baking but eaten raw as well. The hard shells protecting the nutmeats are difficult to crack and pry open, which makes collecting and harvesting black walnuts messy and labor intensive. Even so, grow a black walnut tree in your backyard to benefit from the nutritious nutmeats it produces.
Growing Black Walnuts
Wear gardening gloves and collect black walnuts from the ground between September and November. You need three nuts per hole, because not all will grow. Soak in warm water for 10 minutes to soften the husks. Discard nuts that float as they will not grow.
Peel the shell from the nut. Place the nuts in a zipper bag filled with moist moss and refrigerate for 120 days to stimulate the winter season.
Loosen the dirt in the planting site with a shovel. Make sure it has well-drained soil and receives plenty of sunlight for most of the day. Add fistfuls of compost and rake well so it goes deep.
Dig a 2-inch deep hole in the planting site and place three nuts in it. Cover with soil and tamp down. Water the area well and spread chicken wire to protect from rodents. Weigh the wire down with bricks. Thin weaker seedlings and remove the wire as the black walnut grows taller by the end of the year.
Water the growing black walnut frequently, specially in times of drought. Prune damaged limbs to invigorate the tree and maintain appearance.
Harvest Hulling Black Walnuts
Wear gloves and a hard hat to prevent injury from any falling nuts as you harvest nuts. Collect the nuts covered with green husks in a bucket. Do this in September or October.
Remove the husks from the nuts. Press your thumb into the fruit till it bursts, then peel the hull off. Discard the hulls and wash the nutshells with the spray from a garden hose. Be careful so you do not stain your clothes.
Lay newspapers in a cool and dark basement and spread the nuts over them for two weeks to help them cure. After that, store the nuts in a well-ventilated area or shell for immediate use.