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How to grow pistachio nuts

Updated November 21, 2016

The pistachio is a poor choice for an impatient gardener. It takes the average pistachio tree 10 years to produce a reasonable quantity of nuts. However, at maturity, a solitary tree is capable of producing up to 36 kg (80 pounds) of nuts in a single season. Pistachio growing is also not recommended for those with limited gardening space since the trees reach 9 metres (30 feet) in height. Pistachios are also self-incompatible. A male and a female tree will need to be planted to produce nuts.

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  1. Excavate soil at a site that will get at least eight hours of sun each day. Create cavities at least twice the size of the tree's container. Place the planting sites 4.5 to 7.5 metres (15 to 20) feet apart.

  2. Mix rotted manure or mature compost into the soil with a garden rake, replacing half of the excavated dirt.

  3. Soak the roots of bare-root stock in a bucket of water for 1 hour before planting. Water container-grown trees thoroughly and let them sit for half an hour before planting.

  4. Pull the tree gently from its container. Place the sapling in the hole. Adjust the amount of soil beneath the roots, if necessary, so the sapling sits at approximately the same depth it did in its temporary container. When the tree is in the correct position, fill in the hole.

  5. Press down on the surface of the soil with the heel of your foot to firm the tree's position. Remove any pockets of air around the roots.

  6. Water the pistachio until puddles begin to form on the surface of the soil, which indicates complete saturation of the planting site. Inspect the soil surrounding the tree on a daily basis for 15 days. If the surface feels dry add 4.5 to 9 litres (1 to 2 gallons) of water. Once the tree begins to show signs of new growth, water once every two weeks for 30 minutes throughout the growing season.

  7. Scatter 240 ml (1 cup) of all-purpose plant food around the foundation of the tree each spring. Pour water over the granules to dissolve the compound and carry the chemicals to the roots of the tree.

  8. Harvest the nuts when they are ripe. The husk of mature nuts will turn reddish-brown and split open to reveal the edible portion of the pistachio.

  9. Tip

    The pistachio tree was originally cultivated in the arid climates of the Middle East. It is well-suited to areas with hot, dry summers and chilly winters. In the UK, they'll need to be kept indoors during very cold weather and protected from rainfall.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 pistachio trees
  • Shovel
  • Rotted manure or mature compost
  • Garden rake
  • 240 ml (1 cup) all-purpose plant food

About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.

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