Our first significant hazelnut harvest
Last year, our hazelnuts weren't ready to pick until early September.
But when I was weeding around the bush on Friday, I noticed a few
clusters had fallen to the ground, and several of those nuts were gnawed
open on one end. That's a classic dining pattern for flying squirrels, so I figured I'd better bring in any nuts that were ready ASAP!
Our hazelnut bush is now
six years old, and this is our first significant harvest. After a little
handpicking, I realized that the easiest method was to clear away the
few weeds that had grown up through the cardboard beneath the bush, then
to shake each limb vigorously. About half of the nuts dropped and were
easy to pluck off the ground. I'll go back next week to try to beat the
squirrels to the remaining clusters.
(Look who joined me in my harvest morning --- a beautiful katydid!)
Back at the trailer, I
decided to dehull the nuts right away. Really, I would have been better
off waiting for the hulls to dry since some required prying action to
get the leafy lobes apart. But it's been so wet that I was afraid the
nuts would mold in their shells, so I went ahead and dehulled, ending up
with about a cup of hazels in the shell for this first batch. Not a
whole lot, but pretty exciting since we only got five hazelnuts total
Meanwhile, back in the
garden, our bush has already created proto-flowers to produce next
year's nuts, as you can see if you look closely at the photo above.
Except for the multi-year wait for the first harvest and the possible
squirrel problem, hybrid hazels seem to be an excellent low-work food plant. I'm glad we set out three extra bushes last fall!
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