Both almonds and walnuts are tricky customers from the growing and pruning point of view. The following comments are purely based on my own experiences during the last 40 years. But the situation is changing, as the climate is getting warmer and, for many locations in the UK, it is also getting wetter, particularly during the winter months. For almonds, that could mean the possibility of more regular crops.

Having said that, there are two main problems with almonds and walnuts; squirrels and early frost damage. If you can overcome these two problems, cropping will greatly improve. Almonds flower very early, walnuts a little later. Therefore April frosts can finish off the crop as far as almonds is concerned, and they can seriously reduce the crop of walnuts. Squirrels are the main problem with walnuts. If walnuts are harvested when still green for processing, then squirrels are no longer an obstacle.

almond tree
Almond tree, photo by Julia Kicova/Unsplash

Where to plant almonds and walnuts

I have never found particular sensitivity to pests and diseases for either walnut or almond. However my main finding is that both trees like warmth and plenty of sunshine. So the position where to plant the trees is very important indeed. I also found it an advantage to plant where there are lots of people about. This seems to scare off the squirrels. The pH of the soil should be around normal/ neutral. Good depth of soil is an advantage, particularly during dry periods in the summer months. Both trees like a regular moisture supply. Good pollination is a real help. A beehive close by placed at a sunny spot will do the job well . I don’t know why, but personally I have never seen bumble bees in our nut trees.

Almond and walnut varieties for the UK

The varieties used for walnuts in the UK are Buccaneer and Broadview. For almonds I used Robijn and Mandaline. These trees are not suitable for small gardens.

How to prune almonds and walnuts

Regarding pruning, the less the better! Just remove crossing branches and broken branches, and branches which are too low or damaged in any way. With the almonds, I keep the centre of the canopy fully open for good light levels into the centre of the tree.

Walnut tree
Walnut tree, photo by Shahab Yazdi/Unsplash