The Q&A Archives: Vegetable garden in Walnut orchard

Question: On my property is an old walnut orchard. Iv'e been told that it can be difficult to grow vegetables close to the trees as the roots contain a toxin. Is this true? If so, how far from the trunk can I successfully plant? Is there anything I can useto amend the soil to overcome this problem?<br><br>Thank you.

Answer: Walnut tree leaves contain a substance that inhibits the growth of other plants. It's best not to use the fresh leaves as mulch material, as some plants are very sensitive to the chemical. Walnut trees also provide dense shade and have feeder roots that are close to the surface. The roots will compete with other plants for moisture and nutrients. Try to plant at least as far away from the trunk as the spread of the canopy of the tree. That way you'll avoid competition with the roots of the tree and can keep your veggies in full sunlight - where they'll grow best. Walnut trees have a reputation for harboring aphids, so watch your plants carefully, and hose off any insects as soon as they appear. The honeydew they excrete can cause problems on plant leaves.

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