There are few chores I remember from my years growing up on my family’s Missouri farm more thankless, backbreaking, low paying and messier than picking up black walnuts. Our yards had numerous walnut trees, which every autumn produced as many walnuts as there were large whirring cicadas in their giant canopies. Picking them up, however, wasn’t just done for the pocket change my brother and I earned as much as it was necessary to get them off the ground and out of the lawnmower’s path. As walnuts lay in the grass their soft pulpy shells quickly turn mushy and black, oozing a dark staining juice that makes them unpleasant to handle.
Enter the most effective tool I’ve come across in a long time, the Nut Wizard. My brother discovered this tool on the Internet and brought one over to our farm during a recent family reunion, amazing everyone with its utility. So simple and elegant, the Nut Wizard is a wire basket reminiscent of an egg whisk, attached to rotating hubs on either end with a long wooden pole handle. You roll the wire basket around on the ground and walnuts or other similarly sized objects just pop right into it. When it’s full, you simply lower the wire basket onto a heavy wire spreader (included) that clips onto the top of any five-gallon bucket and, voila, the gathered contents are quickly dumped!
I was impressed that it succeeds in picking up walnuts that have embedded themselves deep in the grass, as well as those that have lost their outer soft shell. Gooey walnuts are picked right up, and sometimes if the outer shells are really rotten, the messy parts get left behind and the rotating basket picks up just the more woody inner shell. By far the most impressive feat of the Nut Wizard is how it can get kids arguing over who gets to push it around the yard.
This tool is available in three sizes, collectively capable of picking up a wide range of items: acorns, pecans, hickory nuts, chestnuts, marbles, apples, baseballs, tennis balls, golf balls. And there’s also now an even smaller version, the Ammo Wizard, that will pick up spent bullet casings.