I now have a nut producer! I’ve wanted a nut producer for my homestead, but having such a small property I didn’t think I’d have room for one. For instance: I would love to have a walnut or black walnut (I love both types), but they grow to be 50-70 feet high with wide spreads. I can’t afford that much shade and/or dead zone (walnuts produce an allelopathic inhibitor stopping most other plants from growing nearby) in my little space. (There is one a block away from my house that the owner doesn’t seem to be harvesting. I might ask them if I could gather them next year.)
Well, two weeks ago I was talking to a fellow parent at the playground. Found out they grow hazelnuts and that hazelnuts grow on bushes! The next week, I went to the nursery and bought an American hazelnut! An American hazelnut is a large shrub that can grow 10-15 feet high with a 10-15 foot spread. That’ll work in my yard. In order to get nuts–I’ll make it work! Yep!
The nuts are smaller than the hazelnuts you buy in the store, about 1/2 inch in diameter, but taste the same. Those found in the stores are European hazelnuts, which can’t really grow in North America. There is a disease here, that the American hazelnut is resistant to, that kills the European variety.
American hazelnuts will grow and produce nuts in part shade, but will produce more nuts when grown in full sun. I’ve read contradictory info on whether you need more than one plant for good pollination. The nursery said I only needed one. So I’m going to go with what they said and see how it goes. It should start producing nuts when it gets 3-4 years old.
Hazelnuts are supposed to be really good nutritional nuts. They have iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, protein, fat, and many other nutrients. This site compares hazelnuts to almonds for reference. And this site has the nutritional breakdown of hazelnuts.
Two other nut trees I would love to grow and why I can’t are:
- Pecan tree: too big (66-130 feet tall with a spread half its height)
- Almond tree: prefers drier, Mediterranean-like climates.
Oh, one bonus about the American hazelnut is that it has very pretty fall foliage. The leaves turn golden yellow or red to purple. I look forward to seeing it.