Edible Garden – Growing Nuts

Edible Garden – Growing Nuts

edible garden

GROWING NUTS 

Almonds and walnuts are challenging to grow, but worth the effort.

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA NELLEMANN

 

While exploring the Reno-Tahoe area for fruit-laden trees in the fall, Pamela Mayne of the Reno Gleaning Project came upon a grove of almond trees dropping nuts onto a street in an Old Southwest Reno neighborhood.

“I was sitting on the sidewalk of Circle Drive, like a monkey, cracking open and eating these nuts,” Mayne says, laughing. “They were so delicious and sweet … almost like almond extract.”

This type of sensual sidewalk experience might be a rare one for Reno residents. Most nut trees in Reno are either mature varieties tucked into protective backyards, or need warmer microclimates to thrive and produce those sweet nuts. Property owners and renters offer their fruit and nut gluts to the Reno Gleaning Project, but keep their addresses and locations secret to deter trespassers.

The most successful nut trees in the Reno-Tahoe area tend to be almonds, black walnuts, and hardy Carpathian walnuts. Carpathian walnut trees were grown in Reno in the 1980s, and some still can be found near the baseball diamond in Idlewild Park. Mayne also has run into mature nut trees near the University of Nevada, Reno and the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care hospital on Kirman Avenue.

Mayne encourages the planting of new nut trees in the area. She is growing her own Garden Prince Almond, a dwarf variety that uses less water than larger trees. This particular type of nut tree needs at least 100 nights of freezing weather to produce nuts, something that most California-grown varieties can’t tolerate.

“I recommend planting nut trees with the permaculture guilding concept,” Mayne adds. “The baby nut tree should be planted in a protected area with other mature trees. This cloisters heat and water and creates mulch for the younger tree.”

Planting nut trees

John Bruin, a plant specialist at Moana Nursery in Reno, says that if you have success with apricots, nut trees might be right up your alley.

“You will see almonds and black walnuts in areas around Arlington (Avenue) and Plumas (Street in Reno),” Bruin says. “This is classically referred to as Reno’s ‘banana belt.’ The area tends to stay warmer than the rest of the city. Nut trees bloom early and need a long season to mature. Our climate doesn’t really give the plants that chance.”

The Garden Shop Nursery in Reno sells various nut trees, and some even have produced nuts while still in their nursery pots.

“Almonds need more than one kind of variety to self-pollinate,” says Josh Jimenez, a manager at Garden Shop Nursery. “We usually sell them in combos. For black walnuts, you only need one tree to produce nuts.”

Jimenez adds that the nursery also sells a butternut variety. Related to the walnut, the butternut also does not need a pollinating partner.

Nut recipes

Nuts aren’t just for heart-healthy snacking. They can be used in various dishes and desserts, including smoothies — with just a little preparation.

“We presoak all nuts that we blend into our delicious smoothies, in order to improve their texture and also to allow for easier digestion and assimilation,” says Ellen Tobben, juice bar manager at Tahoe Central Market in Kings Beach.

Almonds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and high amounts of protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin E. Walnuts are high in monounsaturated fats and are a good source of the amino acid arginine, which allows blood vessels to relax. Walnuts also contain antioxidants, which protect healthy cells from free-radical damage, helping to detoxify harmful substances.

“They are a heart-healthy food and are relatively high in calories, which is great for those looking to replenish the system after a workout,” Tobben adds.

Christina Nellemann is a writer and designer living in Washoe Valley. She recently warmed up on a chilly day with the delicious Super Soother from Tahoe Central Market.

Nearby Nuts

A trip to El Dorado County can be a remedy for those wanting to fill their recipes with freshly picked nuts. Farmer Kirk Taylor of Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie in Apple Hill has a 30-year-old grove of chestnut trees as well as some black walnut trees available for fall harvesting. A highly versatile nut, chestnuts can be roasted, ground, and used as a flour; puréed into creams and sauces; or added to stuffing for a Thanksgiving turkey. For details, search Smokey Ridge Farmstand on http://www.Eldoradograpes.com.

Pistachios do best in the hotter climates of Southern California and Southern Nevada. Organic pistachios can be ordered from the family-owned Saddleback Orchard, located in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chock full of potassium and vitamin K, pistachios contain fewer calories than other nuts. For details, visit http://www.Organicpistachios.com.

Recipe

pan seared salmon centro

Pan-Seared Sockeye Salmon and Pickled Sweet Pepper and Toasted Pistachio Pesto

(courtesy of chef David Stern, Centro Bar & Kitchen in Reno. Serves 2)

For pickled peppers:

15 sweet baby bell peppers

1 tablespoon pickling spice

3 cloves garlic

One day prior:

Slice bell peppers to open and remove seeds. In large pot, bring 1 quart water, pickling spice, and garlic to boil. Remove from heat and add peppers and 1 quart ice to cool. Allow peppers to pickle 24 hours.

For pistachio pesto:

Pickled peppers

2 cups pistachios, toasted

1 large bunch fresh cilantro

3 cups olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pesto method:

Char peppers on open flame. Place all ingredients except oil in blender. On medium speed, start blender and slowly add oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring salmon filets to room temperature. Generously salt and pepper both sides of filets. In nonstick pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Place salmon filets in pan, skin side down. Cook five minutes. Flip filets, and cook another two minutes. Turn off heat, but keep salmon in pan for another minute. Take filets out of pan and place onto plate. Let rest for a few minutes before topping with pesto.

super soother

Super Soother

(courtesy of Ellen Tobben, juice bar manager at Tahoe Central Market in Kings Beach. Makes a 16- to 20-ounce smoothie)

1 ounce turmeric juice

½ ounce ginger juice

½ cup frozen banana

½ cup persimmon

¼ cup almonds, soaked

¼ cup walnuts, soaked

½ to 1 cup almond milk (depending on preference)

Blend all ingredients in high-powered blender until smooth.

berry nutty smoothie

It’s Berry Nutty

(courtesy of Ellen Tobben, juice bar manager at Tahoe Central Market in Kings Beach. Makes a 16- to 20-ounce smoothie)

¼ cup almonds, soaked

¼ cup walnuts, soaked

1 cup packed spinach

¼ cup frozen berries

¼ cup frozen banana

½ to 1 cup almond milk (depending on preference)

¼ cup yogurt (optional)

Blend all ingredients in high-powered blender until smooth.

 

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