One Thousand Chestnut Trees - a Whitetail Deer Project

I started early this morning, thinking I will get the prep for the freeze out of the way so I can do two other projects. I am wasted - it was a huge task because of the size of my spread this time. I did have to buy a 12 by 16 tarp. But I moved things around to get more inside my garage plus I stacked rootmaker 18s inside the greenhouse with a stand I build. I used metal conduit to get 6 side by side on each level.

Part of my issue is I have some seedlings that I got stuck with. Lakngolf I can get you some chestnut now if you still want them.

I have worked on clearing up my greenhouse too. I made a mistake with some fabric bottoms, seedlings will grow deep in gravel looking for moisture. The axe and hatchet work beat my hands to death. If I am guessing our temps will settle around 31 or 32 tonight. I have 80s of my stuff outside my garage but all 80s are covered very well.

Fingers crossed.
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I have 735 chinese chestnuts in growing media from 10 different sources / trees. Got a big problem with one source where I have 59 in growing media. These are legacy trees as I call them, person wants seedlings from a tree planted by a previous generation. With good intentions but bad outcome, they vacum sealed them which pull all the moisture out of them when the oxygen was sucked out. 0 for 59 on germination thus far.

Got a another legacy supply that traces back to a grandfather that planted trees. The grandson wants trees from those as his granddad has passed on. Put 102 of them in growing media and am hopeful for 45 seedlings as there are 3 family members that I will give seedlings to, I will keep none of those seedlings for myself.

I have a tree in my county that is awesome, I call it the Collins tree for the property owner. I have 164 of those in growing media, big chestnut that produces a vigorous seedling. Lakngolf (of tomato growing fame) got some of those chestnuts to grow seedlings from. He and his lovely wife came to visit and left me with tomato plants. Hope I don't kill those plants, pressure is on. He got some good seedlings to plant on his place as well.

The Collins tree may be a victim to Bull Dozier so I am very interested in protecting those genetics. I have had discussions about them sparing that tree. Fingers are crossed.

The Empire Chestnut Company is now Route 9 Cooperative in Eastern Ohio and I purchased 5 pounds of Chestnuts from Greg Miller. Greg knows more about growing chestnuts than any individual I know of. He is the chestnut whisperer. I think I will have 111 of those in growing media. I have one fridge at a relatives place to go check, hopefully i have a small bag stored there. The Ohio Chestnuts have great germination as do the Collins Chestnut. Greg Miller has the best genetics available, so I will continue to buy from him each year.

My best tree on my homeplace is called Alpha by me for ID purposes, it produces a large chestnut, I have 113 of those in growing media. It had bad wind damage in September when it was loaded with burs. It was pruned in late February to correct the issue; it looks great right now.

I have other sources I will not bore you with. I have 296 various oaks in growing media, 200 of them being Sawtooth Oak. Deer in my area love the Sawtooth Acorns, their opinion is the only information I care about. I have no patience for state wildlife officials and hobbyist that trash the Sawtooth Oak. The State of Tennessee does not trash them. I believe the Sawtooth has been in the USA about 100 years. I am growing my seedlings for the wildlife; I consider it my charity.

I have Shumard, Bur and DCO. The Bur have not woke up yet. The DCO are sleepers in the 1st year. The Shumard Oak are slow germinators compared to other stuff I am growing.

I am gonna have to stop people driving down the street and make them take seedlings to distribute all of what I grow this year. I am not shipping bare root. I may work with Lowes where I buy all of my soil amendments to help me give away my seedlings, after I have given them to deer hunters. I buy potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, coconut coir, mini pine barks and osmcote plus at Lowes (6 items). It adds up fast. I wish everyone that got seedlings given to them would return the growing containers as requested, but that has been a source of frustration. I only make that request for locals.

I have 18 flats in the greenhouse and two of them may get emptied, which will allow me to put known germinators into those flats. If they have not germinated in a few more days it will be time to cut bait.

If anyone is interested in the contact info for the Route 9 Cooperative in Eastern Ohio let me know and I will post it here. They are the best chestnut source IMO.

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Great update as always, Wayne. The difference this time is I knew exactly what you were describing. Wanda and I enjoyed our visit with you and your wife.

The Collins chestnuts you gave me had great radicles forming so my grandson and I transferred them to gallon grow pots. They are in my greenhouse inside wire box to keep varmints out. No top growth yet.

Of the seedlings you gave me I have 2 Ohio and 3 Chestnut Ridge in large pots to grow and plant next winter. All the rest Jack and I put in the ground in the Bull Pen. We keep them watered and are doing great so far.

I have two other batches of Chestnut trees from seed you sent me in 2012 and later. The early ones have been producing numerous chestnuts for 3 or 4 years now. And I am hoping the dozen in the second batch come thru this year.

Thanks for everything
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2023 Greenhouse Seedlings in late June

I have been motivated this year. I place 1,030 chestnuts, acorns, DCO, & Shumard in growing media in late March / early April. Now I am covered up in green, lush seedlings. Did all germinate? No, thank goodness some didn't. I would not have room for all of them. I created two wildlife packages, where in a square 4 gallon white bucket I placed 9 chestnuts, 3 by 3 where each line of 3 was from one of the best trees/nuts I have. When given to a deer hunter, they have good diversity and a good group of seedlings.

If i had more white square buckets, I would have created more of these packages. First year I have used this approach and I believe it will be effective. IMO. My local folks are not as good as they should be at returning my white buckets, out-of-town folks are not expected to return containers.

I give away what I grow, it is my charity. I have learned to be very firm about people protecting the seedlings the day they plant them. No on the I will get some wire up tomorrow point of view as the deer destroys too many seedlings when they find them. Family doe groups are murderous on a new green exposed seedling.

Here is photo showing the height of some of these growing 2023 seedlings.


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What does a 2-year-old seedlings look like? Here you go. Blow up the photo and check out the girth of some of these stems in this bucket.
Got plenty of vibrant, green leaves.


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A few more greenhouse photos, one looking at the south side and one looking at the north side. This greenhouse is 16 by 25 with a shade cloth cover.


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What does a 2-year-old seedlings look like? Here you go. Blow up the photo and check out the girth of some of these stems in this bucket.
Got plenty of vibrant, green leaves.
This one was 8 months old:

A photo of W1, Wildlife Package One. I name trees so I know where the good seedlings come from. There is a Collins Family in my town and one of the son's had 4 chestnut trees I believe were planted in the mid 1950s. Three of his trees are prolific and one is average. Of the three prolific trees, one of them is the best tree I collect under in middle Tennessee. It has everything you look for in a great wildlife tree, big chestnuts, plenty of burs, huge tree and in excellent condition. It has a blue tape label with Collins on it. Milton took some of the Collins Chestnuts to Alabama and his grandson and him potted them up.

The Alpha Tree is my best tree in my yard, and it is what I call a TVA Tree, it has an orange label. My wife's grandfather planted two chestnut trees on my Father-in-law's rental property. Those two trees were provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority, like 1,000s of occurrences, to farmers after the American Chestnut was wiped out by the blight. This tree is outstanding but suffered storm damage last September when its limbs were loaded with heavy burs. It was pruned in February and seems to have recovered nicely so far. The offspring seedlings from this Alpha Tree are robust.

Ohio is a red label and I purchase chestnuts from Greg Miller in Ohio each year, now it is the Route 9 Cooperative, formerly the Empire Chestnut Company. Greg Miller is the Chestnut Whisper in the USA, IMO. Wildlife Package one (W1) has Collins, Alpha, Ohio chestnuts in the bucket if all 9 germinated. All three of these chestnuts are grown individually in Rootmaker Express 18 trays too, so I can add a missing seedling if that is what someone wants or needs.


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This is a photo of W2, Wildlife Package Two. If you notice this bucket has a few of the chestnuts that didn't germinate. I deal in high numbers, and this is why I grow some individual trees, not just packages. The W2 Package has the Collins Chestnuts, 1204 (3 of my yard trees) and FF BG.

FF BG is part of an orchard of 40 trees at one time. I first collected at that location when it was done to 32 trees. A man by the name of Tom Ferrell had a nursery business and on part of farm he planted his chestnut orchard. I believe TVA was likely his source of trees also, but don't know for sure. The ground is now part of a subdivision, city sprawl situation. The family that lived there sold their home and the new comers wanted an above ground pool. They cut down some trees, among the ones removed were the late droppers in the bunch. I would wait on that group of trees each year and when I picked under them, I only collected the late droppers. Well, Bye-Bye, that option is long gone.

Of the remaining 21 trees, there is one tree that drops huge, beautiful nuts. The tree is crowded by the adjoining chestnut trees, so it does not have a huge crop of burs, but what it drops are very special. That label is yellow - FF BG.

My 1204 Label is purple, our high school colors. I have 3 trees on the south side of my property, all from the TVA Trees thru my wife's grandfather planting. The squirrels love these trees because of their location, and they put down a good crop most years.


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This photo is a 2 Gallon Wildlife Package. It has 6 nuts total, 3 from Collins and 3 from Alpha. Not everyone wants to plant 8 or 9 trees.

I like the 2 Gallon Buckets; I just don't want to pay big box stores prices for them. As previously stated, I give away what I grow.


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I love all things Castanea

a backyard full of baby trees in containers is a summer fixture

Soiless media, water,osmocote plus, water,timely upsize(RM18,RBII 1gal,RBII3 gal),water are key It is impossible to overwater in Texas heat

I start first week of February and baby them til first frost in November. All outdoors

Transplant size is NEVER less than 3 gal and preferably to well drained, sandy loam east and north facing slopes

I killed a lotta trees before evolving to this general plan

I am finishing up my distribution list. Got some folks gonna plant after they put up their deer firearms. 2023 has been a great year for chestnuts, I will pass 500 seedlings given to folks from my container growing during this calendar year. I suffered a mild heart attack in June of 2020 - worked hard on restoring my health. Glad to be able to enjoy growing chestnuts and other nut trees.

Personally, this has been a great charity for me. Seeing my efforts help others and the whitetail deer give me piece of mind and the knowledge that I am leaving the world better than I found it. Not all of 2023 has been a reserved seat. I put in three flower beds in the yard - put my lower left back and left hip out of whack. Cost me a weeklong deer trip to Ohio with my son and grandson. I have not been in the woods on our farm either. Being 70 years old has it issues.

Sorry but I do not ship chestnut seedlings. So, a huge majority of these seedlings have been located in middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Milton got some for his farm in Alabama and I have one group to deliver in Ohio when I can drive that much without back issues.

The seedlings I have distributed have all been gifts. I have been blessed with good jobs and a great family. It is how I give back.

Heard from a good friend today that I have known since we were in Sunday School together before we were school age. She retired one week and got told less than a week later she had cancer. Yesterday, Monday, the 20th she got news of a good scan. Hundreds of people in my area have been praying for this lady. I grew legacy trees for her this year. Chestnuts collected under trees her dad planted in the early 1960s. She, her sister and her son were given 40 seedlings I grew for them. My prayers included the hope she would survive to see chestnuts from those trees on her small farm.

I started this thread back on the QDMA Forum. Time has rewarded us, many of the people that got chestnuts from me now have trees that are producing nuts for them. I always take the time to smile when I receive this news.

I challenge each of you to help someone else establish trees for the deer and turkeys. You don't have to give things away, but your knowledge and support can make all of the difference. Brad Shoemaker, AKA "Brushpile" provided me the knowledge, support and motivation to start back 9 or 10 years ago.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks to everyone that contributes to this forum and helps others. I believe with all my heart the man upstairs keeps score on the deeds of each of us.
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