Are chestnuts a good fit for a small property? I had originally thought so, when I planted three sweet chestnut trees a couple of years ago. One of these was actually planted over the grave of my old, much loved dog, Morleigh. That tree was placed in a great located in my back yard. The other two were planted out the front of my hours, next to the driveway.
I am having second thoughts about the planting of these trees. I do really want to produce Sweet Chestnuts. I love to eat them when they are roasted, and growing them makes sense in light of that… then again, I have been examining the pods which the nuts grow. If you have not seen these things, brace yourself for a shock
The sweet chestnut pods are so spiky, I couldn’t even pick them up without jabbing myself several times. The needles are very fine and strong as well as pliable. The ones I have are small, possibly too small to penetrate a shoe or tire of a car… yet these are from a juvenile tree. I worry what will happen in 5-10 years, when the tree is fully grown and dropping pods double the size, with spines large enough to do some real damage. Imagine walking around and having to dodge small landmines in the grass.
I did a little research and I could find that there is little in the animal kingdom that will devour these nuts. I read that White-tail deer eat them (spines and all) and squirrals also eat the nuts (they apparently bite a hole through the shell). These nuts are very reluctant to be eaten.
Due to the real danger of sever tire damage I am considering moving these trees to somewhere on my property that will be less exposed to foot and tire traffic. Somewhere that will still be accessible.
Through this I have come to the conclusion that sweet chestnuts can be a good fit for the small homesteader… if you give more than a moment to consider where they should be placed. Think about what effect you will receive when your trees are fully grown before you put them in the ground.