Fruit and Nut
Updated 13th July 2018
New Nursery Site Sought!
Fruit and Nut nursery has to vacate its current location and is seeking to lease land on a long term basis (20 years or more). The nursery boasts one of the most diverse collections of nut trees in Europe (mainly as young trees) as well as extensive collections of fruit trees and rare conifers and would plan to relocate most of these trees on the new site too. It is intended that the new site will become a showcase for all species of nut viable in Irish conditions, eventually becoming a teaching venue hosting workshops on all aspects of sustainable land use.
Preference would be for a location in Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim or Roscommon but all offers considered. The ideal location would include up to 1 acre of tillable land (for propagation beds) plus outfields for developing into nut orchards plus a hard area - for example a concrete yard - for lining out containerised stock. Outbuildings, even if in need of repair, would be an advantage.
Land purchase also considered but no silly prices please! We need to vacate our current premises by the end of December but would prefer to move well ahead of the deadline.
For further information contact us by phone or email.
Update 14 July: we have been offered a temporary site which we now plan to use as base for the nursery for the next 3-5 years. However we are still interested in finding a long term site suitable for nut trialling and research work.
Supply of trees 2019-2020
We hope the transition to our new premises will go smoothly but some disruption is unavoidable and our free advice service may be temporarily suspended.
Unfortunately, during the transition period it may not be possible to service small barerooted orders of fruit or nut trees: for the period autumn 2018-spring 2019 the nominal minimum order size for despatched orders will be €200. Smaller orders may be handled at our discretion (we will try to facilitate all previous customers). Once the transition period has passed, the nursery hopes to resume small orders of apples, pears, plums, damsons and cherries, and all nut species in our range. Rootstock orders will not be affected.
Contract growers wanted
As a consequence of our impending move, nursery expects to be short of tillable ground for growing on stock during 2019 and 2020 and is looking for contract growers to take on some of our apple and cobnut stock and grow it on for a year. Please contact us for further details.
Nut calendars 2019
Unique hand drawn nut calendar by UK- based horticulturalist and food security researcher (and former Fruit and Nut volunteer) Ella Sparks. The calendar features cobnuts, walnuts, heartnuts, chestnuts, pinenuts and araucaria, including historical information, interesting nut facts and top tips for growers (aimed primarily at growers in Ireland and the UK but suitable for all growers in cool temperate climates) and also shows public holidays, phases of the moon and principal solar events. Size of pages: A3. Price 20.00 including delivery. Ideal for a gift or hanging in your kitchen! Available from August. Supply will be limited so be sure to order early!
Growing cobnuts in Ireland: An examination of the commercial potential of cobnuts
New updated and revised version of the 2014 document. Included for the first time is cultural information for growers. From orchards examined by Fruit and Nut during the period 2014-2017, it is clear that poor or haphazard maintenance is a reoccurring theme. The new document places much more emphasis on site maintenance, particularly ground cover control. The document is now available upon request (pdf).
Latest research: Why cobnuts sometimes have very poor crops
On-going research from Fruit and Nut has determined that mild winters are causing cobnuts to produce male flowers earlier in the year. In some cases the male flowers are finishing before the female flowers emerge. Given the reality of global warming (and in Ireland's case milder winters), this trend is likely to become more pronounced. For the cobnut grower, the best remedial action is to planting at least one variety with late male flowers (for example Cosford). The nursery is working on developing a new very late flowering variety by crossing a particularly late flowering wild hazel (found growing close to the nursery) with Cosford.
The Future is Trees project - update
The nursery has been contacted by a number of landowners in relation to this project. So far, all the sites offered have been unsuitable, the main reason being that they were situated too far from Westport. In several cases, the terms of the lease offered was non-viable (the period of lease was too short). For the project to be viable, the minimum period of lease is 50 years. Further details can be found here
Seed grown chestnuts, walnuts and heartnuts a waste of time
We hear an increasing number of stories from people who planted seed grown chestnuts, walnuts and heartnuts, who are disappointed with the small or nonexistent yields. Our view is that as far as reliable nut production is concerned, seed grown trees of these species are not worth the gamble. Yes, with a large enough trial population some trees are bound to do well and this is of interest to researchers looking to develop new varieties but for successful nut production, we strongly advise using grafted or stooled trees of varieties proven in Irish conditions.
However, seed grown trees of some other nut species do succeed: for example pinenuts and Monkey Puzzle trees.
New lines 2018/19
American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Long cultivated for its tart red berries, popular in cranberry sauce, the American cranberry requires moist, free draining acidic ground to do well. Providing those conditions are met, it is very easy to grow. Commercial producers construct special cranberry beds that can be briefly flooded several times a year. This helps reduce certain pests (generally only a problem in large scale production) and also facilitates harvest. However, for best results, the water table should be maintained for the rest of the year at 25-40cm below the ground surface. The American cranberry does not thrive in permanently waterlogged or very dry ground. The ideal pH is 4-5.
We offer the variety Pilgrim, a late high yielding variety with purple-red berries, popular in the United States since the 1960s and now grown commercially in Europe. More details to follow.
Cowberry/Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)
Closely related to the cranberry, the cowberry is native to many European countries including Ireland. It is cultivated on a large scale in many countries, notably Sweden, Finland, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. The berry is similar to the cranberry but sweeter and less astringent. Unlike the cranberry it does not require flooding. It prefers drier, well drained acid land but is much more tolerant of wind than the cranberry and probably will do well in Atlantic coastal regions. To the best of our knowledge it is not cultivated in Ireland.
We offer the following varieties:
Koralle. Light red berries, highly productive and reliable cropper. Slightly fussy in its soil requirements (requires very well drained soil)
Red Pearl. Dark red berries, more tolerant of less than ideal soil conditions but yields can be more variable.
Both varieties are highly ornamental. More details to follow.