We planted a small orchard a few years ago, as you all might remember me saying.

Depending on the age of the sapling you plant and the type of tree, it could take years for them to mature enough to start producing fruit and nuts.

Some fruit trees are self-pollinating. Some are not. You need to know which is which. Good rule of thumb is that if you are going to plant a fruit or nut tree, then plant another near it. The birds and insects will cross-pollinate the trees and your yield will be much greater, even with “self pollinating” trees.

The nut trees we planted – walnuts, almonds – will not be producing anything for awhile. Too young. But, there are black walnut trees growing nearby. The meat inside is good and most times they are there for the taking – if a land owner even cares, they’ll be more than happy to let you take all the walnuts you want. As I said, the meat inside is edible and the shells can be ground down and made into a brown clothing dye or a stain. They can also be ground fine and used to polish spent cartridge brass for reloading.

Easy way to get to the nuts inside when you harvest them is to spread them out on your driveway and literally roll over them with your car. The walnut shell inside won’t break, but the outside bit will come off.

Almonds are a super food. They are calorie and fat dense – 12 almonds have about 100 calories and 10g of fat. Also contain magnesium, Vitamin E, antioxidants, etc, help fight diabetes and heart disease.

We currently have 3 almond trees in our orchard. The tree and bug lady from the county extension was surprised to see almond trees growing so well – it’s a tree you do not normally see here. We have the All-In-One Almond tree and Hall’s Hardy Almond trees. The All-In-One is a good general tree, but the Hall’s is more cold-hardy (meaning during normal seasonal changes, both types will produce nuts. But if there is a particularly cold winter and something bad happens, the Hall’s will still produce)…

Within sight of me right now is a willow tree. While not as common as they are farther south, they are planted as an ornamental. There is another about a mile from here. I take notice of these things. The willow bark can be made into an “aspirin” tea (actual aspirin was synthesized from the bark of the willow), and it works, but it tastes nasty.

Willow – when rendered into charcoal – is also the best wood to use if you are making Black Powder (willow charcoal + sulpher + Potassium nitrate), but I think Willow is more valuable around here as a medicinal than a source for charcoal. Plenty of other hardwoods can be used for satisfactory gunpowder. Leave the Willow for medicinal use.

The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1