CORNER BROOK — It’s taken over three decades to see results, but Stan Pieda has proven to himself that you can grow walnuts in Newfoundland.
Pieda, 66, has been cultivating walnut trees on his Station Road property since the early 1970s.
During their honeymoon, Pieda and his wife Bernice passed through Kingston, Ont., and it was there he was first struck by a walnut tree.
Pieda, 66, a retired College of the North Atlantic forestry instructor, said he noticed the trees were quite plentiful and this got him to wondering if the nuts would grow here in Newfoundland.
“So I ordered a little sprig of a tree from a nursery in Mississauga,” Pieda said.
He planted the black walnut tree around 1974 and each year waited to see if it would produce, fully expecting to see walnuts in five or six years.
“But it didn’t happen ... because in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s the weather was so hard,” Pieda explained.
It was too cold for the female flowers to grow and without them the tree didn’t reproduce.
But he didn’t give up, and about 10 years ago a change in the weather turned things around.
In 2002 and 2003 Pieda’s tree produced walnuts and, except for the odd year here or there, has continued to do so.
“And this year has been really fantastic,” said Pieda. “I’ve got 500 or 600 walnuts.”
That’s a lot of walnuts, but Pieda said his family has no trouble using them up. Once dried out, Bernice crushes some of them and the couple adds it to their morning cereal. Grandkids — Samantha, Elizabeth and Edward, also enjoy snacking on them.
Since his black walnut tree started having some success, Pieda added an English walnut tree about six years ago and this year got a dozen or more. He said they are identical to the ones you buy in the store.
Pieda said something he’s learned with his walnut trees, and others that he grows, is that you’ve got to give them extra care.
“It’s a labour of love because the trees are out of their environment,” he said. “You have to feed them and water them.”
The result is in the yield and the fact the trees grow about three feet a year.
In the past his garden contained a lot of vegetables, but today Pieda focuses mostly on the trees and some berries. Besides the walnuts, Pieda grows plums, pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, peaches and red, white and black currents.
He also has a sweet chesnut tree that he hopes will soon produce.