Nuts (2)

Our almonds are grafted onto the Myrobalan plum rootstock, the preferred root for almonds growing in high rainfall, clay or heavy soils sites. They will thrive in better soils and climates as well. The plum root infers excellent resistance to drought, excess soil moisture, and to a lesser extent nematodes.

Almonds are the earliest fruit or nut trees to bloom each spring, between early February to mid March depending on site, year and variety. It is important to plant almonds in the least frost prone area of your property. Select a site that has good air drainage, as well as good water drainage. In certain areas a more northerly site may be preferable, as this will delay the blooming of the almond in the spring, thus reducing its susceptibility to frost. Almonds require insects for pollination, either honeybees or wild bees or wasps. Increased crops are obtained when two or more trees are planted for cross-pollination. Further increases in yield occur when two or more different varieties are planted in close proximity for cross pollination.

Provence (aka Jordonola)- Sold Out
Provence AlmondThe almond was first introduced into the US by Felix Gillet in 1876. He eventually introduced 15 varieties. Gillet’s introductions created the foundation for further breeding, resulting in today’s modern, popular varieties. The Provence (Jordonola) is the first of his cultivars grown by the FGI. His description from his 1889 catalog: “A recent introduction. This nut, which is kind of flat, is much sought after by confectioners; by striking the nut on the suture with a small hammer, the shell splits open in two, letting out the kernel entire.” In addition to their great culinary qualities, almonds also produce a profuse beautiful pink/white bloom in early spring heavily visited by bees and other wild insects and birds. Almond is a valued hardwood for use in specialty wood products, smoking meats and vegetables, and as firewood.

The mother trees are located on a late 1800’s homestead on American Hill in Nevada City, elevation 2500 feet. This appears to be about the upper limit for almond production and survivability, as we have yet to find any almonds at higher elevations. We believe these almonds will be productive at all sites below 2500 feet where there is minimal spring frost damage. Higher elevations require an excellent air drainage site, and may produce crops infrequently, although the tree and blossoms will be beautiful.

Gillet is acknowledged has the original source for all of the California walnut industry of today. He imported and bred nearly 20 varieties of walnuts from France and the Middle East. The original home of the walnut is the Fertile Crescent, and it was greatly improved through selection and breeding in France during the 1700s and 1800s. Gillet wrote that the walnuts grown in California at the time of opening his nursery were much inferior to those of his home country. The variety then grown was from a species of walnut from Chile, the hardiness and culinary qualities of which were significantly inferior. Gillet, not so gently, chided the CA walnut farmers to improve their orchards with the vastly superior varieties that he offered. He was right! The introduction of the Franquette and Mayette varieties from Gillet proved to be the parents of the entire California walnut industry, the largest in the world. The term “English” is often applied to the walnut of commerce, however there are no edible walnuts from England. I believe the word English got attached to the walnut because of the English Ranch near North Columbia on the San Juan Ridge, which has a very old walnut orchard of Gillet’s outstanding varieties.

Culinary walnuts from France or the Middle East, while excellent in quality, do not have the hardiness necessary to survive the rains and droughts of California. Gillet recognized, and pioneered, the technique of grafting the improved culinary varieties to the Northern California black walnut (NCB), a native species that is very hardy and resistant to drought, flooding, cold and heat. Most walnuts today are grafted accordingly. Our walnut trees are grafted to this rootstock to ensure extra hardiness and productivity, and to continue the popular technique developed by Felix.

Our nursery site on the San Juan Ridge does not have the depth of soil nor the length of season to effectively grow walnut trees, so we have contracted with our very good friend Robert Woolley of Dave Wilson Nursery to propagate our walnuts using the scions from the mother tree, grafted to the NCB rootstock. They grow the rootstock from selected wild Northern California black walnut seed and then graft our selections to them. They grow great trees! This is the only species we offer that is not grown by us, and they are not organically grown.

Chaubert Walnut
Chaubert WalnutAlthough the Franquette and Mayette varieties are of excellent quality, and form the foundation for today’s modern walnut industry, we have found a Gillet variety that is of even higher quality. The Chaubert is an amazing nut, very large, almost 100% light colored meats, with the best flavor we have tasted. We have offered tastes of this for a too many people who do not normally like walnuts, Jenifer included, and they love this walnut. We intend to reintroduce this variety to the farm community as we increase its production.

The mother tree grows in North San Juan on an old stagecoach stop homestead. It’s a huge tree, well over 100 years old, and often produces in excess of 250 pounds of the highest quality nuts annually. Although many walnuts benefit from a pollinator to increase productivity this tree grows by itself and yet yields very high production.