Tag Archives: black walnuts

Leaves Falling Like Rain

Black walnuts are interesting trees. They are among the last trees to leaf out in the spring and the first to drop their leaves in the fall. Frost brings leaves falling like rain.

Walnuts begin falling in early September, a few at a time. By October many trees are bare of both walnuts and leaves. Other trees still have many walnuts hanging high overhead and lots of green leaves.

Killing frost arrives.

Standing in the barn door during milking I listen to the walnuts hitting the metal roof on the workshop. Whump! Pow, pow pow. Thump! It is a continuous drumroll.

leaves falling like rain cover the ground

Many of the black walnuts are still hard and green when they fall. The bigger ones will crush underfoot. The smaller ones roll and can make walking dangerous. Killing frost is a trigger for the walnuts to fall along with the leaves.

Black walnut leaves are compound so there is a foot long stalk with nine leaflets on it. Each leaflet is close to two inches long and half as wide.

Given time walnut leaves turn yellow in late August. This year was warm and moist so the most leaves stayed green

Each puff of wind brought leaves swirling down from the trees. Sunlight highlighted these as they twisted and spun and fell looking like great green raindrops.

Walnut leaves falling like rain covered the walnuts and ground as a green carpet. Walking is again hazardous.

leaves falling like rain leave bare trees

Black walnut trees don’t leaf out until the middle of spring. Their leaves begin to yellow and fall in the middle of August. The trees still grow big.

I was done picking up walnuts. Two loads were plenty and took most of my work time for two weeks. Then killing frost paved the ground with more walnuts.

There will be another load of walnuts. Not as big as the other two. It could easily be bigger.

Walking out to find the goats in the evening the ground under every walnut tree was paved with walnuts and leaves. Out on the hills too there were leaves falling like rain.

By noon the green rain was over. The black walnut trees are bare. It will be another year before I can again watch the leaves falling like rain.

Persimmons and Black Walnuts

Every breeze brings the plop of falling persimmons and black walnuts. Both crops are large this year.

My stash of black walnuts is growing slowly. Part of this is my fault. It takes time to go out picking them up.

The trees are another part of the problem. I gaze up and see branches laden with black walnuts.

The trees are too large for me to shake. The nuts are too high for me to hit or pick. I am a slave to the wind.

Persimmons are getting ripe now. They fall when ripe. It is not a good idea to pick persimmons. Even raccoons do not pick persimmons early.

a persimmon fron persimmons and black walnuts

This American persimmon is ripe and ready to pick. The wrinkles hide a sugar packed burst almost like a piece of candy. Early in the season, ripe persimmons drop to the ground. Late in the season they must be shaken down or they dry up on the tree. Birds do snack on them.

For the uninitiated, green persimmons make your mouth draw up into a pucker. It leaves the inside dry and mealy. And the bitter taste is added on top.

This result does not wash out easily. Eating a ripe persimmon definitely helps get that green persimmon residue out.

A great way of using persimmons and black walnuts is in persimmon bread. The rich taste of the persimmons is offset by the sharp acid tang of the black walnuts. “Exploring the Ozark Hills” has a recipe.

Since the two are both ripe now, it is tempting to go out and gather the two up and head into the kitchen. There are a couple of reasons not to.

Black walnuts must be hulled and dried or cured for a month before being hammered out of the shells. This lets the oils settle.

American persimmons have thick skins and numerous, big seeds. Both must be removed before using the persimmon pulp in any recipe.

Separating that pulp is not easy. I’ve tried several methods. Boiling is a disaster. Rubbing through a sieve is not much better. Perhaps a ricer would work, but I don’t have one.

What I do have is a freezer. After cleaning, the persimmons are dried off, dumped in a freezer bag and frozen for a week or so. They are so full of sugar, it takes time to completely freeze them.

Then thaw the persimmons. The skins slide off. The seeds pop out with little effort.

squirrels like persimmons and black walnuts

This young gray squirrel is out on the road eating black walnuts. The road is neutral territory for squirrels, but dangerous because of traffic. The squirrels will spend hours grabbing nuts and carrying them off.

Persimmons and black walnuts have other fans. The goats inhale any persimmons they find. And they do search, snuffling through the grass. They know every persimmon tree in their pasture and visit daily. From the trails elsewhere, deer do the same.

Black walnuts are a favorite of squirrels. They depend on walnuts for winter stores. I tend to be a sloppy picker and leave many behind for the bushy tailed crowd.

When the persimmons and black walnuts fall, the leaves are turning, the nights are cooling off and autumn has begun.

Picking Up Black Walnuts

Black walnut trees are nice. They grow a bit slowly but are nice sized in ten years with a wide canopy. They are long lived. They leave you picking up black walnuts.

That is the main reason many people don’t like having the trees in their yards. A big tree drops a lot of nuts beginning in late August and ending in late October.

having a black walnut tree means picking up black walnuts

This is a younger black walnut tree. As it gets older the top will round out more. Walnuts are borne mostly on twig tips. And there are a lot of twigs.

Stores carry walnut meats. These are from English walnuts which like warmer areas than the Ozarks. The nut meats do taste good, but not as good as black walnut meats.

Black walnut meats have richer flavor. They are spicier. They make their presence known in whatever they are in.

We have four big trees around the barn area. The nuts are falling. We can ignore them or we can begin picking up black walnuts.

The case for ignoring them isn’t very good. These can be almost three inches across the hulls. They are hard to begin with and roll under your feet. Small wasps lay eggs in the hulls turning them into a black, gooey mess as the larvae eat the flesh.

black walnuts

Most black walnuts hang in pairs or threes on smaller branches. They are heavy and branches droop down with the weight.

The nuts themselves are extremely hard. Lawnmower blades end up with nicks mowing over them.

The case for picking up black walnuts is better. It removes the risks of wrenching an ankle. It saves the lawnmower blade. They are good to eat, although difficult to crack open. (It takes a special nut cracker or a heavy hammer.) And the nuts are saleable.

Our local feed store hulls and buys black walnuts for around twelve dollars a hulled hundred weight. The price varies over the month of October, higher the first week and dropping over the month.

I use the plastic feed bags to gather nuts in. It takes about six bags to net a hundred pounds of hulled nuts.

I usually gather the nuts in old two gallon buckets. It takes thirty nuts or more to fill a bucket and five buckets to fill a sack.

picking up black walnuts for sale

Black walnuts deteriorate into a black, gooey mess in a week or so. Plastic feed sacks work well. These sacks aren’t full yet. Once they are full, I tie them off with baling twine. It’s possible to put five sacks across, two rows, then pile four flat on top and two on top of those. Another two rows across and pile. I won’t do that this year as I won’t pick up that many. Still, it would be nice.

That is another drawback to picking up black walnuts to sell. It takes a lot of walnuts to make any money. It takes a lot of time.

One year I gathered a thousand pounds of black walnuts. Not now. I don’t have the time. Now I mostly go picking up black walnuts because I hate stepping on them. Last year I sold three hundred pounds. This year I have one sack filled and part of another one and more on the ground to pick up.

Read more about this fall activity in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”