There were four chestnut trees on our patch at Icy Creek when we bought the block. We’re haven’t been able to identify much else about them, but the fact that they had survived prolongued neglect suggested to us that this was a good spot to grow them. And so far, that hunch seems to have been borne out.
I know that chestnuts are not as popular in Australia as in Europe and Asia, but once you’ve eaten a bag of them from a street stall, it’s easy to get a sense of what you’ve been missing out on.
Since our first planting of about 30 trees in 2004, we have gradually extended the size and range of the plantation, so now we have around 80 trees. While some have yielded excellent small crops, the consensus amongst growers is that it takes up to 10 years for a new orchard to yield a viable commercial harvest.
The varieties we grow include:
- De Coppi – a popular variety in Australia that is considered to be a genuine all rounder
- Purton’s Pride – widely regarded as the best variety for roasting
- Red Spanish – great for pureeing
- April Gold
- Bouche de Betizac
- Marrone di Chiusa Pesio
The photo below shows one of our four year-old trees sporting its catkins.