A tale of hide and seek or maybe it should be hide and forget where I put it.
The tale starts with the very big, mature walnut tree in my neighbours garden.
This walnut tree produces large amounts of walnuts each autumn. The walnuts from the tree provide the local grey squirrel community with the opportunity to store up food reserves for the winter.
The squirrels usually access the tree via my garage roof. They also spend quite a bit of time on the garage roof removing the outer covering from the walnuts they have taken from the tree. As squirrels do not tend to be very good at clearing up after themselves this means my garage roof and the surrounding area soon becomes covered in discarded green walnut husks. This would not be so bad if the husks were useful but they can be toxic if eaten by other animals and tend to make a mess when squashed by passing humans or vehicles.
Having removed the husks the squirrels then start to search for an appropriate location to bury the nut. Generally this will be somewhere where it is easy to make a hole for the nut. But it is not always the case as I often find new bumps in my lawn where a squirrel has attempted to bury the walnut. Most seem to end up in flower beds or flower pots that have used to decorate my garden during the summer. Some have also appeared in my compost heaps. The nuts that end up in the flower beds or flower pots are often not found until they start to grow in the spring.
Some manage to stay hidden for quite a while. Just recently I found one I had missed amongst some shrubs. Judging by the size, approx 2 metres, it had been growing un-noticed for a few years.
Previously I had been simply removing the young walnut trees and putting them in my Green waste bin. However I decided to start keeping a few and I now have quite a collection.
Judging by the numbers of walnuts I continue to find that have germinated I can only assume squirrels have poor memories or perhaps the walnut harvest is so good they only need to find very few of their hidden walnuts to survive the winter. The loss of these nuts certainly does not seem to be impacting the local squirrel population. Although at times some of their actions suggest they may remember they buried a nut somewhere in my garden but the exact location remains a mystery.
I wonder if walnuts could be the source of the next bio-fuel or super food? 🙂