Welcome To Acorn Season - Our Backyard 2019
We have two very large Oak Trees in our backyard. One of them has been documented here on the blog last Summer - and has our tree swing hanging from it. The other is on the southside of our property and is almost as massive as the first. I posted a photo of it's trunk when I was talking about a potential tree house here. We also have a few medium-sized and a few MASSIVE Black Walnut trees in our yard. Having these trees around means that come mid-to-late August, our yard starts to transform into a nut wonderland. Above you see three of the green acorns that I picked up. They were among HUNDREDS of their brethren. Some in good shape. Others that have been already worked over by various critters including the Acorn Weevil.
These things aren't falling of their own accord. Or at least...most of them aren't. They are being released by squirrels. It is kind of fun to watch these guys climb up into the extremities of these trees, hang on for dear life and gnaw away at the connective tissue at the acorns. Some of the nuts end up with them up on the tree. MOST of them end up on the ground. Where they squirrels then head to collect and store for the Winter.
It is kind of a neat process. Seeing all the nuts all over the place and understanding their role in allowing these critters to live through the long, hard Winter.
But, it also made me wonder if we can grow a tree from these? Do Oak Trees require cold stratification? I'm not certain if we have Red or White Oak, let alone Bur or Pin Oaks. But I did look online to try to figure out if we can grow some Oak saplings from these beauties.
The resource that I found most useful is this piece from the Iowa State University Extension Office. The first step is to collect pure, good acorns like the ones you see above. Then, dump them into a bowl of water. Sinkers = good to go. Floaters = toss back into the yard for the critters to gobble up or store.
White Oak and Swamp Oak acorns will germinate with an August planting. But everything else? Requires a cold stratification.
Since I'm not sure what we have, I'm going to try both. We planted a few acorns directly in pots and covered them with some quality potting soil.
And, we're going to try to cold stratify a few this Winter, too. Iowa State recommends that after soaking the acorns, I stick them in a mixture of sand and peat moss in a coffee can or bucket and placing it in the fridge. I would think that monitoring the moisture level in the container over Winter is going to be key. Also, the cold stratification outlined by the same Iowa State article calls for 30-45 days, but if I put them into the fridge in September, that's A LOT longer than 45 days. Seven months until we get to March, which means about 210 days of cold stratification.
I suppose we'll have to wait and see which of the paths (directly sowed into containers now vs. cold stratification) will work for us - which, I think will also help us identify what kind of Oak trees we have on hand at Hornbeam Hill.