How to Grow Nuts
Almonds, hazels and filberts are the smallest of the nut trees and are easy to grow in the garden.
In addition to producing nuts in autumn, almonds show a beautiful display of pale pink blossoms in spring.
When to Plant: Late fall
At Their Best: Spring and late summer
Time to Complete: 3 hours
1. Choose an open, sunny spot with deep, fertile, well-drained soil. Avoid frost pockets because almonds flower in spring and their blooms are easily damaged. Plant and stake the tree. If your tree isn't self-pollinating, you will need to plant two.
2. Prune your almond trees to keep a good, open shape, but only in summer, because they are susceptible to silver leaf disease. Once the hulls have cracked open, harvest the nuts by knocking them from the tree. Slit the hulls, remove the nuts and dry them.
Hazelnuts and Filberts
Hazels are round, hard, chewy nuts that commonly grow in hedgerows. Filberts are a slightly elongated, cultivated form of hazel, and are particularly good for eating. Both grow well in a range of conditions, and produce nuts from a young age.
When to Plant: Late fall or spring
At Their Best: Late summer
Time to Complete: 2 hours
organic matter for mulch
1. Hazels prefer well-drained soil and a position in full sun or partial shade. Plant two hazel trees in your garden to guarantee cross-pollination and a good crop of nuts. Plant bare-root plants in late fall; pot-grown ones in spring. Plant and stake the tree. After planting, water well and apply a layer of mulch.
2. Water the tree regularly for the first year. Once the plant is established and has been growing for at least two years, prune the strongest, upright stems to the ground to encourage flowering side shoots. Hazelnuts can be harvested young and eaten fresh and green, or left to turn brown on the plant, and then harvested and stored.
Hazel Pea Sticks
In addition to nuts, hazel produces woody stems that are particularly useful in the garden. Pea sticks (as they are known) make great supports for peas, which is how they got their name, as well as for annual climbing flowers and a range of other tall vegetables. Longer hazel poles can be made into rustic obelisks and sturdy frames for runner beans.
When to Start: Winter
At Their Best: Summer
Time to Complete: 2 hours
a mature hazel plant
pruning tool, such as loppers or a pruning saw
1. Allow your hazel tree to grow unpruned for three or four years. The most useful pea sticks are those stems with shrubby, branching growth, which will be well developed on a mature plant. Then, in winter, simply thin out your hazel plant, take the stems you need and leave the rest to grow and produce nuts. Store the stems in a cool, airy place until you need them in late spring or summer.
2. For long, straight poles cut all the stems of an established hazel plant to the ground in winter. New growth forms poles, which will be ready to harvest in five years. Grow several plants to get a regular harvest.