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Sweet Chestnut Trees

 

Planting

Sweet chestnut trees should thrive in any well-drained site in full sun or partial shade.

Plant your trees as soon as possible after receipt, allowing sufficient space for them to grow. Sweet chestnut trees will grow to approximately 5m (16ft) in height and 5m (16ft) in spread after 10 years.

Should weather conditions be adverse (i.e. if the ground is frozen or too wet to plant), then the trees can be left in their pots in a sheltered spot or if bare rooted should be temporarily heeled in until conditions improve. Dig a hole or shallow trench and cover the roots loosely with sufficient soil or compost so that no roots are exposed to the air.

Improve the soil structure by thorough digging before planting, ideally to a depth of about 45cm (18in) - two spades deep. Mix in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost.

Soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours. Dig a hole comfortably large enough to take the rootball, remove the pot and plant, ensuring the top of the rootball is level with the surrounding soil or up to 2.5cm (1in) deeper. Apply rootgrow™ mycorrhizal fungi directly to the roots before planting - this will help the tree to establish quickly. Firm soil around rootball and water-in thoroughly.

 

Watering

Keep the soil around the tree moist throughout the first growing season. In later years only water during prolonged dry spells, drenching thoroughly no more than once a week.

 

Weeding & Mulching

Keep the area around the tree free of weeds, particularly during the first year. An annual mulch of well rotted compost will greatly improve moisture retention and soil structure, and help suppress unwanted weeds.

 

Pruning

Sweet chestnuts should be pruned when they are dormant (during the autumn or winter). No regular pruning is necessary, just trim or cut back hard to control the size or shape as required.

 

Feeding

Most garden soils contain sufficient nutrients for a tree to grow healthily, though a top-dressing of a balanced fertilizer (such as Fruit Feed) in the spring can be beneficial.

 

Harvesting

Harvest when the prickly seed-casings fall and split in autumn. Once dried the nuts will keep for some months.

 

Pests & Diseases

Sweet chestnuts are generally trouble free. Gather the nuts quickly once they fall lest the squirrels get there first!

 

Further Information

For further information refer to RHS Growing Fruit by Harry Baker. Useful information can also be found on the RHS website.
 

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