Hazelnuts – Starting my Nut Orchard

Starting an orchard of any kind takes vision and planning. Unlike annual vegetable crops that are planted and harvested in a season, Fruit and Nut trees need time to mature until they start producing a yield. After researching cool temperate food trees I decided Hazelnuts will be one of my ‘cash crops’ at Intueri.

To ensure you gain that yield it is advisable to plant root stock which are new shoots that take root off a parent tree. Also known as Basal roots, they hold the genes of a fruit producing parent tree and have a much higher chance of continuing to bear fruit than a plant grown from seed.  Fruit bearing trees in many cases also need a ‘Pollinator’ –  ”  the process of pollen from one flower being transferred to another to produce seeds with surrounding fruit. The material required for tree reproduction comes from separate flowers to allow transfer of genetic material from separate fruit trees. The pollination process requires a carrier, which can be animal, wind, or human intervention” wiki

Certain fruit and nut trees require more than one variety of pollinator. In the case for Hazelnuts they prefer at least three. So a collection of varieties is a good move when starting out. Having never grown Hazelnuts on this site before it will be a process of trial and error and observation ultimately finding out which variety grows best in my specific area, soil type and climatic conditions.

I am fortunate to have some very lovely generous friends at Hazelcombe Farm who were happy to dig out some Basal Roots from their Hazelnut Orchard. They also have a Fruit Orchard so while I was at we took out some Williams and Nashi Pear shoots also some Fig cuttings. Just to be on the safe side  I also purchased a mixed batch of 10 Hazelnuts from Woodbridge Fruit Trees, I have included pictures of how these trees were delivered. All the Hazelnuts will stand in pots until next winter and planted out late in that season.

The cuttings I took from Hazelcombe had to travel 4 hours and sit for a day before potting up.

Here is the process I followed in mid winter:

* Select a variety of parent trees with good healthy basal shoots.

* Have some pre-loved plastic bags, a permanent marker and sawdust on hand

* Use a maddock and shovel to dig out the young shoots making sure a good amount of new root growth is captured

* Mark the plastic bags with the variety of each tree, fill with moist saw dust and place basal root with new shoot attached into the bag and close to ensure sawdust does not dry out.

* When ready to pot up fill a bucket with water and soak the roots for 1 hour.

* Trim excessively long roots and place in pot with soil. I used standard potting mix in 25cm pots and used the sawdust as top mulch to keep soil protected. Water once a week. I made name tags up for each tree out of strong silver plastic that once was a dog food bag – reuse when you can and save money, not to mention the environment too – fancy that!

* Visit your new trees and tell them how lovely they are – they are sure to feed you well in gratitude in the years to come.

see also – Hazelnut Orchard Growing plot


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