Walnuts

wal1Walnuts are the nut of any tree of the genus Juglans, particularly the Persian or English walnut, Juglans regia.

Technically a walnut is a drupe or drupaceous nut, and thus not a true botanical nut.

Walnuts are one of the most antioxidant rich foods and are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties and are known to help prevent strokes, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and colon, prostate, and breast cancers.

 

Walnuts are high in B-complex vitamins and minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, zinc, calcium, and selenium.

Walnuts are magnesium (44 mg/oz) and phosphorus (98 mg/oz), both important minerals involved in the body’s processes.

Walnuts are particularly beneficial for cognitive health and are generally regarded as an excellent “brain food”. Walnuts can also calm the nervous system and increase your sense of wellbeing and peace.wal2

They are known to satiate the appetite as well as aid in long-term weight loss. Walnuts are high in vitamin E which helps to keeps cells protected from free radical damage.

A final fascinating aspect of walnuts and their potential health benefits involves melatonin (MLT). MLT is a widely active messaging molecule in our nervous system, and very hormone-like in its regulatory properties. MLT is critical in the regulation of sleep, daily (circadian) rhythms, light-dark adjustment, and other processes. It has also been found to be naturally occurring within walnuts. Average melatonin (MLT) content of walnuts is approximately 3.6 nanograms (ng) per gram (g), or 102ng/ounce.

Walnuts are also very important for the neurological and circulatory systems and can help to benefit neuropathy, cerebral palsy, dementia, Raynaud’s disease, and atherosclerosis.

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Walnut oil is a wonderful moisturizer for the skin and is regularly used in skin care products for its healing and protective benefits.

Try mashing a few ripe bananas and sprinkling chopped walnuts on top for an energy and brain boosting breakfast. Only a handful of walnuts a day are needed to receive their powerful health benefits.

Mix crushed walnuts into plain yogurt and top with maple syrup. Add walnuts to salads or healthy sautéed vegetables and to your favorite poultry stuffing recipe.

Growing

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In North America, the most well-known type of walnut tree is definitely the Black Walnut.

There are also White Walnuts, English Walnuts, Heartnut Walnuts and Cannonball Walnuts.

All types of walnuts are quite hardy, and actually require a cold winter in order to thrive.

If you choose to start your walnut tree from a seed, you will want to either plant your seeds where you want your final tree, or transplant it while very small.

Walnuts do not do well at all in containers because of deep tap roots and don’t handle transplanting.

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Nuts intended for eating will not sprout. Contact your local nursery for untreated walnuts for planting. You can plant with or without the husk still on, though taking the husk off will help the plant germinate.

Plant your nuts in the fall, and protect them from squirrels.They need a period of cold before they will sprout.

(Or share some! Look at this squirrel, that is a huge meal in one shell.)

It only needs to be about 3 inches under the soil. They should sprout in 4 to 5 months, or possibly not until the following year.

One tree is fine on its own, but if you want a group or stand of walnut trees, you need to keep 20 feet or more between them.

A single walnut tree can self-fertilize, and will get nuts even with just one tree. You can get a larger harvest of nuts per tree if you have 2 or more though.

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Placement of your tree is more important than with most other nut trees because walnut leaves are toxic. The leaves (as well as the roots) give off a substance called juglone, and it will kill any other plants nearby including the grass. Keep your walnut leaves out of the compost pile.

Walnut trees need full sun (remember to plan ahead by at least 10 years), and no solid rock at least 3 under the surface of the soil. Ideally, your soil will be rich and well-drained but not sandy.

The nuts grow inside a green husk and to harvest, you have to wait until they are mature enough to drop off of the tree on their own. You don’t pick them. This can make for a bit of a messy and unpredictable nut harvest.

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