What Kills Our Chestnuts When We Try to Grow Them?
#1 Main Killer is Moisture! We over water them. We think Miracle Grow with Moisture Control has to work - look who is selling it. More chestnuts will rot before they break soil than a first timer would ever guess.
#2 Wrong Type of Growing Medium - We don't need soil & we don't need moisture control. Chestnuts like to get to the point of dry before they like water. Using the right growing medium helps the roots and allows us to learn what watering plan works. Roots need air for oxygen and they need space to grow.
#3 Mold Kills - We put them in airtight container with no chance to breath & we put too much moisture inside the container.
#4 Sunlight & Heat Kills - We collect chestnuts but we put them somewhere and forget about them. When a chestnut is collected - get it cleaned and inspected to see if it is a firm chestnut with no rattling in the hull. Leaving them in a hot vehicle for a week after collecting - just reduces our chances.
#5 Chestnuts Smell Good to Critters. Chipmunks, Squirrels, Rabbits, Deer, Turkeys, field mice, etc. Our chestnuts get killed because we don't protect them. If you plant a chestnut in the wild outdoors - you better protect it for a couple of years. Better to plant 5 trees well than plant 50 trees without protection.
#6 Chestnut get killed / setback by sunlight. Grown inside means we must gently push them into the sunlight. Baby steps required here. I use a pine tree that protect them from mid day and pm sun. My seedlings get early morning sun. Worked well until the squirrels made a raid.
#7 Lack of Moisture During Dog Days of Summer. Depending on your containers and location, in July and August if you go three or four days without watering seedlings that have many leaves, you can lose all of your work. Shade cloths are what nurseries use and they water twice a day.
#8 Chestnut Seedling is in Perfect Health then it gets planted in the wrong location. Sunlight is the power plant that generates the chestnut seed. We have to get pollinated by another chestnut tree that is nearby. Location of tree and proximity to other trees matter. We avoid stream sides due to risk to standing water during certain months.
#9 Negligent will kill. Every two or three days you better check on chestnuts under grow lights. In summer heat, you better water at reasonable intervals for your climate. I like to feel of the chestnut leaves with my eyes closed. What does the touch tell me? If you check ten seedlings - one of them may really need some water while the other nine show no stress.
Folks I am not an expert. I am motivated to accomplish my goal - improve my deer's habitat. It is certain I left something off the list above. I just wrote the hard lessons I have learned. If you like to cut corners - your success rate will go down. Mine did until I wised up.