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Hazel? Are you Nuts?

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We learned how to grow hazelnut trees from our grandparents

I learned a lot about how to grow hazelnut trees from my grandparents. That’s because they retired to small house in Oregon that was surrounded by commercial hazelnut orchards. Together we would walk through the trees, and they would tell me about how simple these trees are to grow. Then, we’d head inside to feast on their homegrown nuts together.

Now I grow hazelnuts in our Pacific Northwest gardens.

The funny thing about hazelnuts in this area is they’re almost weedy. Partially, that’s because the Corylus cornuta is a North American native plant. And, these trees seem to pop up everywhere in these parts. Most around here ask less about how to grow hazelnut trees. Instead, they’re asking how to get rid of volunteer plants. Not only do they grow with abandon in these parts. But, they also aren’t the easiest plant to dig up and weed out.

Let's learn how to grow hazelnut trees.

These trees do attract wildlife…

To many, they’re a perfect food producing tree. But, there’s a catch. And that catch is the squirrels. Squirrels love hazelnuts. And, they also seem to know how to grow hazelnut trees too. That’s because they don’t just eat the ripening nuts, but they also plant them. And, of course, squirrels always seem to forget where they’ve squirreled things away for winter.

So, let’s circle back to how to growing filberts & beating the squirrels…

What’s a filbert? That’s just another term for hazelnuts!

  • Start by planting the tree where you can monitor it closely.
  • And, choose a hazelnut tree that’s indigenous to your area.
  • That’s because native trees will probably be the best hazelnut to grow.
  • Plus, be sure to ask the grower or nursery person if it is disease resistant.
  • That’s because a lot of hazelnuts are being wiped out by blight.
  • Then, ideally plant it somewhere sunny and moist.
  • But, hazelnuts will perform pretty well in dappled forest understory. In fact that’s where most of ours grow now.
  • Once you see young, unripe nuts forming on your tree, wrap it like we do blueberries to keep birds out.
  • Then, when the fruit begins to look as ripe as the one photographed, try picking one or two.
  • And, check to see how formed the interior flesh is.
  • If they’re ripe, harvest.
  • If not, keep monitoring daily until it’s time to gather.
  • If you start seeing broken shells on the ground, immediately harvest the nuts.
  • That’s because those broken shells mean the squirrels are eating your hard earned filberts.

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