Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Gathering the Nuts

A homegrown almond, still in its shell, with the leathery outer
pulled off behind.
Of course, the nursery rhyme is gibberish, with its talk of gathering nuts in May. Various dodgy theories exist to explain the words, but whatever those children were being encouraged to gather, it was unlikely to be nuts in May (and 'here we go gathering nuts in late September, early October' doesn't scan).

The rest of the almond crop, laughing at me from the top of the tree.
The black dots at the tips of twigs (and there's more of
them than you'd think) are the almonds.
I am working on gathering our small but interesting enough to bother with almond crop. Commercial harvesters use tree shakers, but they must be considerably more vigorous than I can manage, because after shaking the tree as hard as I could, not a single almond fell. They are clearly ready to pick, as the fleshy outer has leatherised and split. I did succeed in knocking down 3 directly with a long stick, but the rest are too high. I'm going to have to lug the ladder down there and have at them again with the stick.

Fallen hazelnuts.
No such problems with the nice, well behaved and productive hazelnuts, although I was beginning to think they were never going to ripen. The trees and husks show very little sign of yellow autumn colour, but they have all just fallen off the tree and on to the ground overnight, leaving me merely to rake them up. Simon and I will spend the winter cracking boxes of nuts in front of the fire. It doesn't seem to be a problem to share them with the squirrel, and we don't get too many weevils.

The trees are still green, but the nuts are ready to harvest.
We have a sack full of walnuts to shell too. They are not from our trees, but from our neighbour Edouard. They are last year's, but I assume will still be perfectly fine in baking and suchlike. Our own trees, hit by the late frost at the crucial moment, have about two nuts between the 7 of them.

Our two walnuts for this year are in this picture somewhere.



chm said...

I have read somewhere California produces an enormous percentage of the world's crop of almonds. There is a stand of almond trees in my neck of the woods. They're easy to spot since they're the first to bloom in February. I don't know if they're pruned, but they're kept very low.

Word verification is conist. Is that what a con man/woman is?

SweetpeainFrance said...

You could take the walnuts to the huilerie to make into oil because if you crack open last year shells they may accentuate your use of time and energy and show you that they have gornoff so to speak!!! Did you see the tree shaking machine at L'huilerie a Vouneil-sur-Vienne? (I think it is this spelling). Perhaps put a large bache on the ground and gather some strong sticks to throw upwards at the nuts .... or ... send Simon up to the top!!!! Think of the cakes that he could eat!

chm said...

I spotted one of the walnuts and I heard the other one fall while trying to find it! LOL

Keir said...

Susan, it's amazing the difference in weather impact the short distance between Preuilly and where we are near Saint Aignan. Our walnut tree is producing a huge crop this year - and the nuts are superb.

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