Growing Hazelnuts for Food
|Image Courtesy of Horst Frank
One of our goals here at Survivaleer is to provide you with the information and training necessary so you can survive through disasters of any type. A big component of this survival is being able to produce your own food, if the need arises, for the long haul. Picture this, for some reason or another there is a run on the banks. People begin to panic. The first thing that will happen is the banks will close. The nation as a whole will not have access to their cash. Grocery stores will empty in a matter of hours. Those who have a food storage will be much better off. Those who don’t will suffer. But what if this hypothetical situation goes on a little longer? What if the infrastructure doesn’t get started back up? Sure, if you are prepared with food storage and supplies you can last for a half a year, maybe a year or maybe even a couple of years. But at some point you are going to need to produce your own food supply. This article is all about one easy thing you can do this week to get started on producing your own food.
Plant some Hazelnut trees.
That’s it. Easy as pie.
Hazelnuts, sometimes called filberts, are one of the easiest nuts for the average non gardener to plant and care for. They grow almost anywhere in the US (from Zone 9 all the way through Zone 4 and even in some parts of Zone 3. If you don’t know what all that is about, the zone map shows the average temperatures of the US and all plants have a Zone rating. The lower the Zone, the more cold hardy the plant is–the higher the Zone, the more heat hardy the plant is.) And, hazelnuts are large producers. But, you need to get them going now, because they take a few years to start producing nuts.
Two hazelnut trees can produce about 75 pounds of nuts a year. That is a lot of protein and fat. Another bonus about hazelnuts is they have very high levels of B vitamins and fiber. All important nutritional items that may be difficult to get in a long-term survival situation.
If you are planting in the more northern parts of the US, make sure you plant American Hazelnut trees as they are more hardy than the European varieties. The easiest way to find out what Hazelnut trees will thrive in your area is to call a local, reputable nursery. Give them a call right now, find out what Hazelnuts do best in your area.
As you get ready to plant your trees, set them up so each tree trunk will be about 20 feet from the other–but no farther apart than 40 feet. Hazelnuts require full sun, so find a good location for them where they will be happy. You must plant at least 2 trees since the trees are self-infertile and if you plant them more than 40 feet apart they won’t fertilize each other. In warm areas it is best to plant your tree in the early winter, in cold areas it is best to plant them in the early spring. Dig a small hole–you are going to have to base this on the size of your seedling, but most small seedlings just need a 4″ hole. If you have a larger tree that you purchased, dig a deeper hole. Dig the hole just a little bigger than the root ball and then put some loose dirt back into the hole so the tree has some looser soil to begin its new growth in. Plant the tree in the hole and fill it back up with dirt. Then water the area and keep it moist for a few weeks. After that, if the seedling is taking well, you can cut back on the watering to once or twice a week depending on how dry the area you live in is.
As the tree grows, it will get to about 10 to 20 feet high and about 10-15 feet around at the crown of the trees. The hazelnut grows a lot of suckers and for highest nut production you should trim these each year so the tree maintains a tree shape–otherwise it will start to turn into a bush looking thing. Hazelnuts by nature are very drought resistant trees and so after the first year or so you won’t have to worry about much in the way of watering unless you are in a drought situation. If you are in a drought, you should water the trees once a week.
After they start producing nuts, it is a good idea to fertilize your hazelnuts once a year.
After your hazelnuts start to produce nuts–you have a ready-made food supply that is fairly easy to maintain. A good tree should produce for about 30 years. Some trees take up to 10 years to start producing. So make sure you plant your trees now.
When the hazelnut husks have dried up and split open, the actual hazelnuts will start to drop on the ground. Expect this in the late fall. Pick your nuts up off the ground each day. From here, you can either shell your nuts to dry them or you can dry them in the shell. I prefer in the shell. Spread them out on a large tarp or canvas in a warm, well ventilated area. It may take a week or more. When the nuts are fully dry, the nut meat should be dry all the way through. You can tell they are ready if all the white color of the nut meat is darkened. After a week of drying, crack a few of your nuts to see if the meats are fully dried. When they are, that means you can store your filberts away for when you need them. Hazelnuts store for up to two years in the freezer, one year in the fridge, or about six months or so in a cool dark place. If you are going to freeze your harvest, it makes the most sense to crack them first and then store just the nut meats. If you are storing your nuts in a cool dark place, check them weekly for mold infestations and try to use them up within 3 or 4 months. You can even make some Hazelnut Butter from your harvest–delicious!