Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The last of the hazel nuts ( at least for now)

This past week, our permaculture guru friend planted another 2800 hazelnuts on our farm. This is the last open area that can be planted with large scale methods, with layout conducive to mechanized harvest. Any other trees we plant from here on out will be small numbers, and done by hand.

The hazelnuts that were planted in 2012 were challenged by drought conditions that year, but many survived, though some died back and are slowly recovering.

Here is one of the 2012 hazels

And here are some of the 2014 hazels (around 2500 all told). They had a well timed rain after planting, and are doing well. I don't mulch or use herbicides, but do mow next to the trees the first two years. These trees get little coddling, but the overall input costs are low as well.
And here are a couple of the brand new 2016 hazels, planted about two weeks ago.

All of these hazels were planted with a tree planter kind of like this one:  pulled behind a tractor .

Unfortunately, we had a late hard frost that hit just as the nut trees were at their most sensitive. It also knocked all the sumacs back  on their heels. Here is one of our chestnuts, not sure if they will recover. Interestingly, the hazels had leafed out earlier, and were past the critical stage, and were not affected.

Even many of the large established hickories and oaks in our woods were hit hard. We'll see if these small ones have enough reserves left to recover, otherwise we'll be doing a lot of replanting.

Bonus photo- Our feral chives patch in bloom, that was already thriving when we moved here. Comes back strong every year.


  1. Hi Steve,

    The hazelnuts are looking good. I've had the opposite problem with the nut trees in that they grow well in spring and then get hit hard during the heat of high summer, only to bounce back once the autumn rains arrive. Now you may be interested to know that the chestnuts and hazelnuts are very hardy and will bounce back from a die back situation like that. A little bit of water helps though and I'd be very interested to hear of your experience as time progresses.

    It is fascinating to look at the grass and herbage at your place too and there are a huge diversity of plants in those photos - which are excellent quality too.

    The mowing of the rows next to the hazelnuts will cause many roots to drop off the adjacent grass and herbage beneath the soil surface. Those cut roots will become food for the soil life and should increase the food available for the nut trees and they will grow faster and be more resistant to disease and pests. Plus the soil life will start to break down the chopped organic matter on the surface of the soil.

    Hey, you may be interested to know that I spotted a huge area here today which is full of worm holes and worm castings brought back to the surface. It may be a bit hard to photograph though. You may see such a thing once you mow the rows and it is a good indicator of the soil health.

    Chives are awesome plants and your patch looks prolific!

    Your place is looking great.



    1. Hi Chris- I think I have mentioned that we get a lot more annual rainfall here than you do in your neck of the woods, which we are thankful for. Makes for lush looking pasture. With spring rains just winding down, the various annuals grasses and forbs just explode this time of year.

      The area where we have planted most of the hazels was originally conventional grain rotation, so we planted a pasture/hay mix that has alfalfa, red clover, several grasses, and we planted the trees right in to the resulting sod. Since we don't do any herbicides, any other plants that can stand being mown for hay a couple times a summer have also become established. At some point we will need to decide if the hay mix has gotten too unpalatable for livestock, and if so, may need to replant or interseed. ( I've been fighting a patch of Canadian thistle that wants to take over an area).

      I should check to see what our worm population is, and am overdue for another round of soil testing, so need to get the shovel out and do some poking around.

      Thanks for stopping by.