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Thank you, industrious post war baby boomer squirrels

November 22, 2011

As annoyed as I am by the damage the current band of satanic tree rats inflict upon my garden, I admit that their mischief serves a purpose.  (I’ll qualify that with “perhaps once every 50 or 60 years or so.”)

I am both cursed and blessed with a handful of pecan trees over and around my backyard.

Cursed, because squirrels are constantly either burying or uncovering pecans in every corner of my garden.  The collateral damage is annoying, especially in beds with seeds or seedlings in the soft soil mix.  (As an aside, I had one odd rodent this year whose penchant was to uproot pepper plants.   6 of them in 5 days.   WTH?)

Blessed, because perhaps 60+ years and countless squirrel generations back, the ancestors of my current tormentors planted a pecan at back corner of Lizzie’s house.

This buried nut has grown into a large & productive pecan tree in a most convenient location:

Pecans have been raining down onto the metal roof of Lizzie’s and it appears that there are quite a few remaining. (Note: The ladder didn’t reach the branches very well did it? 😉 )

The harvest protocol that seems to work best here is to use a leaf blower to herd leaves and nuts into a large pile and then lightly blow and separate most of the leaves from the pile.   After the remnants are spread out somewhat, the nuts can be fairly easily collected.  Sorting is still needed because so many nuts have been cracked by foot traffic over the flagstone path or tasted then dropped from far above by the current generation of tree-rat.  (And why not use one of the wire nut picker uppers?  Because nut picker uppers can’t discern between pecans and the occasional poodle poo.   I can. )

I have help- my 7 lb poodle poo producing squirrel patrol unit enjoys pecans and is happy to eat a few of the culled harvest:

Worth the trouble?


11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 1:01 am

    Nice! How many pounds of nuts to get each year?

    • November 23, 2011 7:08 am

      Honestly, I’ve never weighed or kept track.
      It really depends on several things- The quality and quantity of nuts is good roughly every other year. A good year, a bad year, a good year, etc. It has something to do with the tree’s use of nitrogen and potassium during the cycle- a heavy year shifts the ratio between the two in one direction, causing a lean year which shifts it back in the other direction, which allows for a good year, repeat cycle…
      Sometimes I am industrious in picking them up, other times I mean to but just don’t get around to it. Admittedly I am a little lazy and tend to only pick up those that have rolled down the roof onto the lawn. The squirrels and possums get the rest. Even downtown here I have possum issues- a young one makes regular appearances between 9 and 11:00 each night to graze on the fallen nuts.
      Bottom line, if I am slack I get a nail bucket full, if my back and hamstrings are healthy I’ll get a couple 5 gallons buckets worth.

  2. November 23, 2011 6:37 am

    Definitely worth the trouble…shop bought nuts have’nt got the same flavour…and the are expensive too. Love that little shed in front of the Pecan tree…so pretty looking with the Garlic hanging up there.

  3. November 23, 2011 6:38 am

    Just looked at your header pic and realised that’s not Garlic hanging up in the shed.

  4. November 23, 2011 6:55 am

    Excellent. I wish that pecans grew in my area. I have to contend with black walnuts. I harvested them one time, and we really don’t like the taste of them. So they will continue to be toys for the kids to roll down the driveway on the way to the bus.

    • November 23, 2011 7:16 am

      There are a pretty good number of trees around me; those on the commercial lot adjacent have 2 or 3 cars sneak in to scavenge them each weekend. The two main competitors are an elderly couple that stops in after church and a Hispanic family that has a system: The dad swats the lowest branches with a long bamboo cane while standing on a ladder in the bed of his truck and his wife and kids pick up the nuts.

      We have black walnuts up at the mountain property, basically good for turning ankles and denting the metal cabin roof.
      One year I tried to harvest some and spent a lot of time before I abandoned the idea. My hands and especially my cuticles were stained for a while after than.

  5. November 23, 2011 10:13 pm

    So what does one do with all those pecans – pie perhaps?

    • November 23, 2011 11:06 pm

      Too much work. 😉 We just crack them and eat them as snacks.

  6. LvsChant permalink
    November 29, 2011 9:35 am

    Lovely pecans… I was given a grocery bag full by a friend who leaves her entire crop to the squirrels most years. From that relatively small harvest, I was able to get 2 1/2 quarts of shelled pecans. So far we have made a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, but plan to use them for Christmas baking… just doesn’t get any better.

    PS: If you do plan to hand shell them, put a band-aid around your index finger to protect it from the sharp edges.

    • November 29, 2011 7:38 pm

      My mother has offered use of the greatest pecan-cracker ever made, or at least the best one she’s come across.

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