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Growing My Way to Freedom #37: Harvesting Hazelnuts

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Blog entry by Radicalfarmergal posted 562 days ago 2074 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 36: Aronia melanocarpa Part 37 of Growing My Way to Freedom series Part 38: Planning for 2013: Seed Purchases »

We gathered hazelnuts today. Many had fallen off the branches and others fell after we shook the branches gently. The outside leaves protecting the nuts had started to turn brown and the nuts easily separated from their casings. We have learned from experience that if the nuts stick to the outside leaves, they are not ready to harvest.

For a little history, we planted two Fingerlakes Filbert Super Hardy hazelnut bushes in the Spring of 2006, purchased from Miller Nurseries. The catalog explained that these hazelnuts are a cross between the tree hazel and the European filbert, giving them the attributes of both: large nut size, productiveness and early bearing traits as well as being disease-resistant, vigorous and hardy to USDA zone 4. They resist aphids and bud mites without spraying, and the nut quality is excellent. In most cases you have to plant two different varieties of hazelnuts to ensure proper pollination but the catalog explained that two Fingerlakes plants are sufficient.

Two hazelnut bushes:

At six years, the bushes are now almost four feet high and three feet wide. We have been watching them closely because this year, one of the bushes was literally covered with hazelnut clusters. We have had small harvests in earlier years but this one promised to be our best yet. Previous harvest had been too small for us to notice what was clearly evident this year. Our two bushes produce very, very differently.

When we opened up the nut clusters we gathered from the tree that was covered with them, we found between five and seven small hazelnuts within each cluster; each nut averaging about one centimeter in width. We only harvested about half of the clusters because the remaining clusters did not fall from the bush when we shook the branches.

Cluster of hazelnuts:

When we finished opening the clusters, we had dozens and dozens of very small hazelnuts, smaller than the size of a dime.

The other tree produced about one dozen nuts, either singly or in clusters of two.

Each mature nut measured a little larger than two centimeters in width.

The two bushes grow within ten feet of each other, in similar soil, moisture and sunlight conditions. The bushes are very similar in size, height and trunk diameter. Both are mulched with wood chips on a slight southern slope. Is the difference in the plants’ genetics or could there be something environmental? Would the bush with very small hazelnuts produce larger nuts if I pruned the branches back this fall?

Gardening is an adventure. Sometimes you don’t know what you planted until several years have past. The description in the catalog did not suggest that there would be significant differences in the nut size although looking back, the fact that you can plant two of the same kind and still get proper pollination suggests that there might be significant genetic differences.

Anyway, we have set all our hazelnuts in a warm dry place to dry and we will enjoy eating them all, whether large or small, when they are finished.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout



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Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1731 days
hardiness zone 5b

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10 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2469 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 562 days ago

how exciting!

very interesting re: the differences.
Now to see if there is any difference in texture/flavour of the nut meat.hmm one never knows!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1731 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 562 days ago

We have always enjoyed the taste of the nuts on both bushes. We just harvested so few in prior years that we didn’t notice that one tree produced large hazelnuts and the other produced smaller hazelnuts. This year we will have to conduct a family taste test and report the findings. :)

I forgot to mention that I actually have four hazel nut trees because this spring I dug up two well-rooted suckers and planted them in my new forest garden. (I still need to post a project about it.) They are thriving and are almost as tall as the original two bushes. These new trees had a handful of nuts each, all of the large variety as they came from the roots of the bush that has few but large nuts.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2469 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 562 days ago

nice!

I have a couple little bushes that haven’t done anything in a couple of years. They are only a foot or two high and aren’t growing. Maybe next year I’ll see something from them.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Harold and Pam's profile

Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1543 days
hardiness zone 10b

posted 562 days ago

So I guess Robin based on your story of the two bushes, while having the same environment and nurturing care, they are just like kids and behaving differently and displaying very different personalities. Darn Kids!!

So what will you do with the hazelnuts other then eat them by the handful? Are you some delightful hazelnut recipes that you will be baking up soon??

Harold

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl

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Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1731 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 561 days ago

My eldest son counted all the nuts the other day, just for fun. He counted thirty larger nuts and almost 200 of the smaller nuts. At this level of harvest, we won’t have any trouble consuming them. We like to eat them by the handful, baked into breads and mixed with fruit pieces into our morning yogurt or grain porridge. If there were more, I might try using them for stuffing too. My children have already requested some dipped in dark chocolate…..we’ll see. :)

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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Harold and Pam

253 posts in 1543 days
hardiness zone 10b

posted 560 days ago

Sounds like your kids are good eaters! That’s good, so many people I know are sooooo picky!

-- Pam grows 'em - I cook 'em...... Melbourne, Fl

View Bon's profile

Bon

7371 posts in 2248 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 559 days ago

So nice to see that your bushes are giving you lots of nuts already Robin.Looking forward to seeing your project post on the other ones.Enjoy your harvest.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2469 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 558 days ago

200!!! Wow.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1731 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 557 days ago

Thank you all for your comments. A quick update on our tasting results….The small hazelnuts are delicious but every one of the larger nuts we have opened have been shriveled and inedible inside!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2469 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 557 days ago

oh really !!!!!
so good things DO come in small packages!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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