A woman, a dog and a walnut tree,

The more you beat them, the better they be.

Old Rhyme.

The walnut was probably introduced to Britain by the Romans, who valued it highly. In Roman times walnuts were known as ‘Jupiter’s Nuts’, and were taken after onions to sweeten the breath. They have always been very popular whether taken alone as dessert, incorporated in cakes and chocolates, or used for pickling. Walnutsare seldom found in small gardens as they need plenty of room and take some years to come into bearing.

Soil and Planting:

A deep, reasonably fertile soil, not deficient in lime, suits the walnut. It is most important not to plant on frosty sites, as walnuts start into growth early in the year and may be injured by as little as two or three degrees of frost. Apples and other top fruits should not be planted too near walnut trees which give a very dense shade in later years. Formerly only standards and half-standards were grown, but bush walnuts are now coming into favour. Standards should be spaced 40—50 ft. square, but for bushes 20-25 ft. square will suffice. Standards are planted as 4 or 5 year-olds, bushes two or three years of age.


Walnuts are pollinated in a similar manner to cobnuts, and it is generally considered advisable to plant more than one variety to extend the period when fertilisation can be effected. No special feeding is necessary, though a dressing of bonemeal or superphosphate of lime at 2—3 oz. per square yard in early spring is beneficial. No real pruning is necessary, but dead or crossing branches may be removed in early autumn. An open, well-balanced tree is the ultimate aim. Pruning cuts should be painted with white lead paint.

How to Pick Walnuts:

Varieties for pickling, such as Leeds Castle and Patching, should be gathered in late July with the outer husk still on the fruits and before the inner shell has hardened. Nuts for storing are usually ready in early October. They should be picked as soon as they have fallen from the tree — if allowed to remain on the ground for a week or two, the green outer husk will become black and is hard to separate. After pulling away the outer husk, all the bits of fibre in the shell crevices must be scraped away to reduce the likelihood of mould.

A soft nailbrush or toothbrush dipped in water will soon remove any pieces of fibre.

Walnuts may be stored in sand and salt. The salt helps to keep the nuts moist, as the kernels tend to shrivel in a very dry atmosphere. With care walnuts should still be good eating the following Easter.

Choice of Varieties:

Walnuts from seed are seldom satisfactory, and only grafted trees of specific varieties are of any real use. Franquette and Treyoc are two good French varieties. For pickling Leeds Castle and Patching can be recommended.

Walnut Diseases. Walnut bacterial blight is the only important trouble. Symptoms are small blackish spots on the leaves. These markings subsequently spread to the leaf stalks and fruits. Remove affected shoots in winter. Spray with Bordeaux mixture or a copper fungicide in early spring and again if necessary.

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