Unfortunately, the American Chestnut is no longer king of the eastern forest, having succumbed to "chestnut blight". This blight is caused by an asian bark fungus that was introduced into North America on imported asiatic chestnut trees. It was first discovered on american chestnut trees in what is now The Bronx Zoo in 1904. By 1906 the blight had affected 98% of all chestnut trees in that area. From there, the airborne bark fungus spread approximately 50 miles per year, In a few decades it had girdled and killed approximately 3 BILLION American Chestnut trees. Another source I read referred to the chestnut blight as "the greatest ecological disaster in the history of this country". That makes it a pretty significant event.
All of the above information is just a little background to a story I want to tell you that happened to me this past Fall. In Oct of 2015 Marla and I were driving her folks home to Ohio, after spending two weeks with us here in PA. While driving west along the PA Turnpike we stopped at one of the rest stops for a little break. During that break Henry and I wandered over to a small farmer's market that was set up there at the rest stop. I began talking with an elderly lady who was selling primarily apples but many other things as well. One of the things she was selling was English Walnuts. This somehow led to some talk about chestnuts and she mentioned that she had a large chestnut tree in her yard. Well this peeked my interest immediately.
Hopefully, at least some of these nuts will sprout, grow and eventually bear nuts. If they do I will be able to give away some nuts to some other nuts like me.
Thanks again for your interest in agrarian culture.. If you enjoy gardening, you will not want to miss the next blog. I don't want to overstate my case but I think I can safely say that you will be "blown away" by what I share next time.
Until then my friends - keep dreaming on spring ! !