Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Around the Chestnut Orchard

How do you like chestnuts -- roasted, steamed, pureed, in the turkey stuffing? I like planting them in the ground, and that's what I and a few others will be doing this coming Friday and Saturday morning.

If you have a few hours of free time, please consider joining us. The holes are being dug for us by The Connection's Ken Ahnell and his hardy crew, but we will be doing a lot of bending and kneeling, planting over 200 nuts in a special soup we make up of peat moss, Perlite, veremiculite and water.

Our little orchard, just three years old, is managed by the Middletown Garden Club and the Middletown Urban Forestry Commission, with oversight by the American Chestnut Foundation. We'll have a team working from 9 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m.on May 4th and 5th -- and we would love to have a few more.

Our goal is to help the Foundation develop trees with resistance to the Chestnut blight, an introduced disease that destroyed the American chestnut at the turn of the last century. The American chestnut provided farmers with a cash crop and food for their livestock, as well as the best fence post wood known to man. Barns and many homes today still have siding made from this magnificent wood.

The American chestnut was truly the king of the forest in those days, representing about one tree in four. Growing as much as two feet a year, they often attained 90 feet in height, with girths to match.

Please drop me an email at if you would like to learn more about this project, and perhaps lend a few hours of your time.

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