The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Hardy almonds

Making a cepa terraceAlmonds are one of my new favorite foods, so I decided to see if we could grow them.  Traditionally, almonds are grown in the sunny south, especially in California where summers are dry, but orchardists have recently developed hardy almonds that can live all the way north to zone 5.  We chose Alenia (Prima) and Dessertniy (Bounty) because they are late-blooming (which means less likely to succumb to our frequent spring frosts), have thin shells, and are supposed to have tasty nuts.  (Bitterness can be a problem with some almond varieties.)

The main problem people report with growing almonds in the east is fungal diseases that result from our wet summers.  To nip fungi in the bud, we've sited our new trees in the sunniest part of the yard and given them a bit more air space than they require (planting them 20 feet apart rather than the rated 10 to 15 feet.)  Unfortunately, this area is on a slope, but I built cepa terraces for our trees to make them easier to tend and to capture rainwater for the roots.

Those of you with the keenest eyes have probably noticed that our new almond beds are in the chicken pasture.  We moved our flock on to pasture two on Friday, giving me some breathing room to plant almonds and grapes in the old pasture.  Before rotating the chickens back to this pasture, we'll make some simple tree cages out of chicken wire to keep the birds from scratching up my new plantings.

Our chicken waterer never spills in coops or tractors.  That means clean water and dry bedding for your birds.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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They contain 4-8 mg of hydrogen cyanide each, which is very toxic (200 mg is lethal for an adult).

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Apr 3 11:49:23 2011

Bitter almonds contain a precursor to hydrogen cyanide; amygdalin which releases HCN when catalyzed by an appropriate enzyme (which is present in out intenstine and in some foods).

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Apr 3 12:05:30 2011
Good point! I'm glad we chose the sweet varieties rather than going with some of the less carefully chosen bitter varieties.
Comment by anna Sun Apr 3 13:02:00 2011

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