Are You Nuts?!

This time of year farmers get all the glory. Images of plump tomatoes, juicy peaches, and crisp cucumbers ready for pickling fill the media. Once those crops are done, pumpkins take over the spotlight, surrounded by a rainbow of brightly coloured leaves that shine before winter takes the stage. People scramble to freeze, can or dry enough produce to tide them over til spring.

There is another harvest that doesn’t get near the attention it deserves though. When these crops are ready to be gathered, all you have to do is let them fall to the ground and pick them up. A quick stomp and Bob’s your uncle! Have you guessed the crop yet? Am I talking nuts? Why, yes I am!

Ontario’s Edible Nuts

Corylus avellana 0005.JPG

Hazelnut – “Corylus avellana 0005″ by H. Zell – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

You may not realize it, but Ontario produces plenty of edible nuts. In fact, in 1972 the Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG) was established by Ernie Grimo, after he had been assigned to report on the state of nut growing in Ontario by the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA). While NNGA had been established in 1910, it encompassed nut growers across the US and Canada. With the advent of SONG, Ontario nut growers had their own voice. As we have our own unique climate and growing conditions, most everyone that was approached was in agreement. SONG was established and has grown in leaps and bounds since then.

Sweet chestnuts

Aside from growing its membership, SONG has also grown the nut industry. They started by distributing heartnuts to interested parties and asking for feedback on the success of the trees. Since then they have established 3 nut nurseries, a number of nut groves on public lands, plus they have accomplished plenty of experimentation to see what selections and cultivars work best in Ontario. While it has been found that heartnuts, sweet chestnuts and hazelnuts have a bright future for commercial development, there are other species that can grow here too. Have you considered any of these trees for your backyard?

*Click on any of the links below to redirect to the SONG website regarding these tree nuts
Sweet Chestnut
Black Walnut
Persian Walnut
Butternut & Buartnut
Northern Pecan
Shagbark Hickory
Shellbark Hickory
Nut Pines


If you do have one of these trees or are thinking about a grove on your own, you need to be aware of a few things. As with any tree, first check on the suitability of your site, ie. soil, light, moisture, early frost protection. Once you have assessed the viability of growing a nut tree, then you need to decide what to get and whether it is grafted or a seedling. Now read up on pruning, mulching, weed, pest and insect control.

On to the good stuff – harvesting!


By mid-September to early October most nuts are ready to harvest. As mentioned earlier, an easy way to harvest nuts is to collect them after they fall to the ground. You can also hasten the process along by knocking nuts out of the tree when they are ready to harvest. Once you have gathered your nuts, remove the inedible outer hull or husk. Do this as soon as possible, as your nuts will be susceptible to mold or insect damage if they stay on. You then need to dry your nuts. Once they are dry, get cracking! Nuts can be stored shelled or in shell. Refrigeration or freezing can extend their shelf life by up to 1-2 years. That equals plenty of yummy snacks for your family for a long time to come!

For more information, here is a helpful video from someone just down the road in Hamilton, sharing some handy tips on harvesting black walnuts. SONG is obviously a great place for information, but if you look you also might find a nut farmer at a local farmers market this fall. Bend their ear about how to grow nuts too. With all that new knowledge, why not give it a try yourself sometime. Happy nut harvesting!

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Harvest Time

Get your Plums at Thomas Bros Farm Market


Apples, peaches, pears and plums,
that is what in August comes.
Apricots, Nectarines, and soon hazelnuts
all grace area farmers markets

All good things that come from a tree
harvested most carefully
from willing farmer’s hands to yours
a bounty crop you shouldn’t ignore


The end of summer is a great time of year. Still plenty of warm days, but the nights are beginning to cool off. School bells are set to ring and vacations are something of memory. There is just enough time left to hit the beach once or twice more, and maybe stock up at area farmers markets for school lunches.

In fact, it is a busy time of year for farmers. Harvests are being reaped in just about everything. If you are keen to capture the bounty, now is the time to do it. Freeze those peaches. Can them pears. Eat plenty of apricots before they disappear. Looking to do more than that? How about try out one of these seasonal recipes with some of Ontario’s available fruit tree crops.

Seasonal Recipes from Local Trees

Roasted Ontario Pear, Shallot and Cumin Tartlets

Do you have a favourite recipe that includes fresh Ontario tree fruits?


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From the Mouths of Babes…

Do you like trees? Of course you do! We all know the benefits of trees, but there is so much more to them than the dry, educational facts we read. We have all been exposed to trees since we were little. We have personal connections with them that are a part of who we are. The sight of a tree can elicit memories from apple picking, to tree climbing, to fun-filled afternoons jumping into leaf piles in the fall. If you were to ask a handful of children today, they would surely say the same.

In fact, I did! I took a poll and asked a collection of children if they liked trees and why. What are they good for, I wanted to know. Here is what they had to say as to why they like trees;

Trees are good because;

"trees have lots of leaves."

Trees have a lot of leaves

“… because they give you air”
Michael, Age 5

“… because they help us breathe and give us oxygen”
Rylie, age 7

“The best thing I can think of is that they have a lot of leaves.”
Liam, age 7

“… because they are pretty and they help you breathe”
Paige, age 7

Tree climbing

You can climb trees

“… because they help the earth and humans and animals (breathe). And you can also climb them and hug them. That’s why I love trees. Without them we wouldn’t be alive and trees wouldn’t be alive without us.”
Thomas, age 8.

“… because they produce fruits for us to keep us alive”
McKenzie, age 8

“… because I can climb on ‘em.”
Jack, age 8


Some give you fruits like apples

“… because they help you breathe, are good to climb in, and birds live in them, and they grow fruit. And I like apples and trees grow apples.”
Taryn, age 9

“I like trees because they are pretty and different in every season. They help us so we have oxygen, that’s actually why they’re here you know, not just to look at.”
Jack, age 10

“… because they are green and some give you fruits like apples, oranges, bananas and pears. They also help you breath”
Haley, age 10

“… because they grow apples and stuff.”
Max, age 11

Did you notice anything? From this small assortment of kids, the overwhelming answer was that trees help us breathe. Sure they are nice to look at, fun to play with, and they provide us with food, but these children know what is really important; oxygen. I’d say that trees deserve three cheers from everyone today, kids and adults alike!

Oh, and I almost forgot one last comment from a “kid” many of us might be able to relate too;


They make good camp fires to sit around and drink beer

“They make good camp fires to sit around and drink beer.”
Peter, age 21

Why do you like trees?

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Blown to Bits at The Bend

Southwestern Ontario is beautiful by most anyone’s standards. It holds some of Canada’s most densely populated cities, like Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor and London. It also lays claim to scenic unspoiled forests, rich farmlands, and loads of freshwater lakes and rivers. Tourist attractions dot the map, like Niagara Falls, Stratford, as well as plenty of beach towns like Sauble Beach, Port Stanley, Port Burwell and Grand Bend. All of these places are blessed by the presence of one of the wonders of our world – the Great Lakes. Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron lap on our doorstep. They are a source of shipping, fishing and leisure, but also an influencer of our weather patterns. Surrounded by these vast bodies of water, we get to enjoy its effects; cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. This time of year, the hot days are perfect for relaxing beach days, but the lakes also serve up a deadly mix of thunderstorms, hail, and even a fair share of tornadoes.

The Crews from CLC Tree Services & Samaritans Purse

The Crews from CLC Tree Services & Samaritans Purse

In 2011, Goderich sadly lay in the path of an F3 twister. The damage was extensive. The city lost businesses, homes, plus an awful lot of trees. It was a major blow to the “Prettiest Town in Canada”. As Goderich is located approximately 1 1/2 hours from London, Ontario, CLC Tree Services jumped in to help. A crew was sent and people who struggled to make sense of the devastation welcomed their assistance. Over two days, and with some much-needed help from Samaritan’s purse, CLC cleaned up areas which still posed a threat to desperate homeowners. It was the least that Curt McCallum and his company felt that they could do.

Tree damage in Grand Bend

Tree damage in Grand Bend

On July 27th, 2014 the Great Lakes served up another whopper of a storm. Lightning flashed, whipping winds whirled, rain pounded, and hail fell before the storm blew itself out. That wasn’t the worst of it though. The next morning it was confirmed that an EF1 tornado had touched down in Grand Bend. Winds were estimated to have been between 155-175 km/hr. Damages were again widespread. Pictures of trees downed surfaced early the next day. In a community of 2,000 people, which swells to closer to 50,000 in the popular summer months, it is a wonder that no one was killed. In fact, aside from the extensive damages, only one injury was reported when a tree fell on a woman. The dollar figures are still adding up though and Grand Bend has made the decision to apply for disaster relief.

Located on the shores of Lake Huron, Grand Bend is only one hour from London. Many people escape the city to soak up the sun on Grand Bend’s beach, or enjoy a drink at one of the many patios there. The sandy beach draws people from miles around with its lure.

Winds were powerful enough to uproot trees

Winds were powerful enough to uproot trees

Unfortunately, it was also a big reason for its undoing. As one tree toppled into another, the sandy soil provided little to anchor them. It was like a giant game of dominoes, where the town’s tree canopy lost. It is estimated that approximately 8,000 trees have toppled. As far as the forest goes, comparatively this disaster is far worse than Goderich in CLC’s eyes.

When CLC Tree Services heard that a tornado had wreaked havoc at the beloved beach town, they hit the road once more. Storm cleanup was needed and they sent every man they could to help. A crew of 7 men worked on one front yard alone for two days. It isn’t pretty. They have already been there for 10 days, but sadly it looks like the cleanup won’t be done any time soon.

CLC Tree Services has stepped in to help communities in need in the past and is proud to do it again. Our prayers are with all the people affected by this tragedy and our services are at the ready. May the recovery at Grand Bend be swift.

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Reaches of the Emerald Ash Borer

Canadian areas regulated for the Emerald Ash Borer

It would appear that few areas are exempt from the emerald ash borer anymore. The above map is the most recent consolidated area where ash trees are being regulated. No wood, leaves, mulch, sawdust or ash material of any kind may be moved within this regulated area to help prevent the potential spread of this invasive species.

Signs of the EAB

Classic sign of the EAB – ‘D’ shaped exit hole


That being said, quarantine areas do little for the existing ash trees within its bounds. As the emerald ash borer has no natural enemies, once an ash tree is infested  its mortality rate is almost 100%.



Snake-like pattern under the bark of a dead ash tree



There are plenty of signs that point to the presence of the emerald ash borer. Look for a thinning of the tree’s crown, dead branches, and yellowing leaves. Small, ‘D’ shaped holes mark where the adult borers have exited the tree. A peek under the bark reveals the serpentine pathways left behind by the EAB larvae.


Ash Rings

Felled by the EAB

As the emerald ash borer larvae effectively cut the flow of sap to the rest of the tree, it makes the already dry tree extremely brittle and dangerous in urban settings. A dead ash tree poses a risk to any people or structures surrounding it. Without treatment, an ash tree can perish within 2-5 years. As 10% of London, Ontario’s tree canopy is made up of ash, it is a devastating invasion for home owners and the city alike.

Canisters administering ash injections

If you discover the presence of EAB early enough TreeAzin is your only defence


The only treatment available at present is TreeAzin. If you suspect that your ash tree is showing signs of EAB infestation, early detection is key in protecting your tree. An otherwise healthy and mature ash tree is a valuable addition and one worth saving. CLC Tree Services can advise you whether treatment is an option and administer it as needed.


As the ash population across North America is being devastated, that option is small comfort. Learn to recognize the signs of the emerald ash borer. Report any sightings to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Never move firewood within restricted areas. Do whatever you can to protect our trees and stop the spread of this invasive species today. Please share this information wherever you can and maybe we can all make a difference.

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