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American hazel

American hazel flowersEven though I planted hybrid hazelnuts a couple of years ago, I don't expect to see much from them for a few years.  But we do have hazels --- native American hazels that grow up in shrubby areas and never do much because they become entangled in Japanese Honeysuckle.  I like them anyway since these shrubs usually showcase the first native flowers of the year --- I was stunned to see blooms on the hazel bushes last week, nearly a month American hazel nutahead of last year's schedule.

While I was poking around, looking for the first spring flowers, I saw a leafy mass hanging on one of the bushes.  Was that an actual fruit?!  I pushed my way through the briars and vines and returned with our first homegrown hazel nut.

The shell was tough, explaining the reason we opted to grow the softer-shelled hybrids rather than propagating our native species.  After a few pounds with the hammer, I was able Thick shell and thin meat of an American hazel nutto excavate a small nutmeat that wouldn't win any taste tests (but what would after sitting outside all winter?)  Here's hoping that the one hybrid hazel that didn't get dug up during Lucy's rodent-hunting campaign will be as vigorous as our native species, but twice as tasty.

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock happy and healthy all year round.

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