Thursday, September 24, 2009

Black Walnut Update: Harvest Time

Time for another update on the walnuts' progress! I feel like I skipped a few weeks, but there was "no change" for the longest time, it seemed--and now they're all ripe and falling off the tree. At this point, the tree is almost bare of walnuts, and the branches that were drooping so low (one even onto the ground), have rebounded now that the weight is off.

The leaflets are falling, too, turning yellow and brown. They sprinkle and flutter down with each breeze, or when rains fall.

The trio of walnuts I've been showing you have already fallen and gotten mixed up with all the rest. So here's a different trio.

As the nuts mature, the hull (just under the leathery green part) changes drastically, from dense and nearly woody (something like an extremely unripe pear) to fibrous and squishy.

And black! See?

I think the thing that makes them fall--not counting harassment from the squirrels (we'll get to them in a minute)--is that the hull gets so loose and soft, the weight of the entire fruit detaches it from the stem.

There's supposed to be a Boy Scout from Moniteau County coming to collect them this year, as a way to help fund his trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. But he hasn't shown up yet. (Maybe it's been too rainy and damp; you should really collect walnuts on a dry day!)

So we've been pitching the nuts into a casual pile at the base of the tree they came from. Which is mighty convenient for the squirrels, who have built a nest in the same tree. Talk about the life of Riley!

It's rainy today again, but each time the rain stops, the squirrels creep around the branches of the walnut, causing the leaves to rustle and the boughs to toss. They remind me of monkeys at the zoo.

Here are links to my previous posts about the progress of our nuts this year:

August 22

July 16

June 23

June 6 (which includes photos of pickled walnuts, too)

May 21

May 8 (when they were just flowers)

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