Growing Perigord Black Truffles in home garden

by Lala

This morning I received my delivery of six young hazelnut trees with roots inoculated with Tuber Melanosporum, also known as truffle fungi. I got in touch with Mr Leon Potgieter of AfricanTruffles.com around December and ordered the trees in January. I need to plant them today because they’ve been travelling since Tuesday.

I am beyond excited to get going with growing this luxury, exotic crop right in my own garden. I just need to get some calcitic lime this afternoon. The recommended pH is high alkaline of between 7.9-8.2 while the trees are young and later 7.7-7.9 when they are established. Apparently they prefer well draining, poor soil with low clay. So I don’t have a lot of extra work to do if I plant them in the front garden we have recently cordoned off from the dogs.

It will be anything from 3 to 5 years before I can harvest. One is able to tell the truffles are ready by observing the area around the base of the tree. It should have a “brûlée” or burnt looking area indicating the presence of a mature truffle in 3 or 5 years. I read that hazel truffles mature faster than oak and pecans. Maybe that’s enough to time to train the Pomeranian to be a truffle dog? I certainly won’t let the two German Shepherds anywhere near my precious trees, haha.

Truffle dog and basket Africantruffles.com
Above: A truffle dog & basket of black truffles. Images from AfricanTruffles.com

The package I received included a small container of truffle salt. I’m saving it for Valentines Day in case we decide to stay home for dinner. I had a tiny shaving of the truffles and it is glorious. It’s kind of a meaty, Camembert flavour if that makes any sense.

Truffle farming on a commercial scale seems to be taking off in South Africa. There are three of four associations involved in cultivation and training farmers. The truffles seem to do very well in many climates across the country, from the Western Cape in the south west of the country to Mpumalanga in the north east.

An impressive “Black Diamond” truffle find was made last year in Mpumalanga by a farmer who had just about given up:
black diamond truffle Mpumalanga

Read the story here:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/13/south-africa-first-black-diamond-truffle-discovered

Wish me luck in this rather long term gardening project.

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