Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Planting Information

If you recently bought one of our plants. Here is a fact sheet that will help in planting. You can always contact us at riverbendhazelnuts@gmail.com for more detailed planting information. 

 from Dan Johnson at Riverbend Hazelnuts

Grows as a shrub 6 to 10 feet tall, and will make a wonderful edible hedge. Has a round shape with dark green foliage.
Prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade.
In the fall they will turn a striking mixture of red, yellow, orange, and green.
When established will tolerate droughts and floods.
The nuts are a good source of protein and vitamins, and can be eaten raw or roasted.
These hybrid hazelnuts are a cross between commercial hazelnuts, and the wild American hazelnut growing in this area.

Planting information
Plant 2 plants for pollination, about 5 to 20 feet apart.
Plant about ½ inch deeper than the root ball (leftover nut), and water immediately.
Water once a week when dry during the first year.
The nut is still attached to the root ball, so squirrels and mice will dig up the plant and eat the nut. (protect the plant)

In about 3-4 years you will be able to harvest the nut clusters at the end of August.
In a nutshell, hybrid hazelnuts are a great choice for northern gardeners.

Growing hazelnuts - Seedlings for sale

After we taste test the hazelnuts, and look at all its various characteristics (non-suckering, thin-shelled nut, good taste ect.), we choose the best ones and plant them.

To grow hazelnuts from seed, they need to be stratified (undergo a period of cold temperature) in order to germinate. This can be done in two ways. You can just plant the hazelnuts outside in the fall and let nature do the work for you, or to get a jump-start on growing, you can store the nuts in the fridge for about 1-2 months and plant them indoors. There are many ways to store them. Recently we have tried putting the nuts in ziploc bags with damp moss and stored them for about 2 months. That seemed to work fairly well. After a period of cold termpatures, the nuts can be warmed up and planted. All the nuts were planted in a sandy potting soil mix and set under grow lights.

We planted lots of nuts in a variety of containers.

 This was about a month after taking them out of cold storage. (April, 2014)

Planting them early will give you a jump-start on growth. Otherwise if they are planted directly outside, these seeds wouldn't germinate and pop above ground until June. 

We had over 200 of these seedlings this spring. We have started selling them, since we have run out of room to plant them. These seedlings are selected from the plants with the best qualities. However, they are open pollinated, so they could end up with a variety of characteristics. We hope to try more clonal propagation techniques this year, and be able to start selling clones of the best plants. 

We still have about 40 more seedlings left for sale.
They are $5 per plant. 
Contact us at riverbendhazelnuts@gmail.com for more information.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Taste Testing

After the hazelnuts are all picked, they need to be dried down for a few weeks. For the best varieties of hazelnuts the nuts will fall right out of the husks, so those nuts can just be put in a paper bag and set in a cool, dry location. 

For the hazelnuts that don't drop right out of the husks, the nuts will have to be dehusked. This involves pulling apart the husks and getting the nuts out. It really varies from plant to plant for how hard they are to get out the husks. Luckily, the bad ones are usually the hard ones to get out the husks, so we usually skip those. Those have really thick husks and can be really juicy. The juice tends to sting any cuts one your hands. Some even have some sticky sap-like residue on the outside. This makes dehusking those a real pain.
We definitely want to select plants that fall easily out of the husk, avoiding the dehusking step altogether. 

After they dry down in a cool, dry location for a few weeks, we can start taste-testing the nuts!
All we do is go through each bag, cracking the nuts, and seeing how they taste.

 We carefully take notes of the taste, how thick the shell is, and the size of the nut and meat.

Wow. These looked like they were big hazelnuts from the outside, but look how thick that shell is!

There are always new plants that pop up from squirrels planting them around the yard. Sometimes we include these on our lists as well. You never know what you might get!