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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Hazelnut Shrub

So, I have these two beautiful hazelnut shrubs. Yes, hazelnuts grow on bushes, although they are getting rather big now and some folks might very well consider them trees before too long. They started out when I first got and planted them several years back, as tiny little things, barely 6 inched tall. I think I got them from Michigan bulb company, or Henry Fields, two of my favorite mail-order catalog places to find cheap stuff. Of course, it could have been Stark Brothers too. They sell fruit and nut trees and berry vines and bushes. That gives me the idea to write a post about my favorite mail order places. I'll work on it! But for now, my Hazelnuts.

So, these tiny things grew relatively slowly and I really was starting to think I would never see a nut from them. Have you ever seen hazelnuts on the bush? They don't look like they do in the store because they are encapsulated in a frilly, green husk, the same color as the leaves of the shrub.  This makes them difficult to see until they start to dry and brown up. Well, last year was the first I saw the frilly husks and at first I thought they were flowers, until I recalled they had flowered in spring. Not very showy flowers, small white-pale pink ones that could barely be seen unless you were up close. Well, I figured out the nuts were inside these husks. They were very pretty actually, the husks, better than the flowers, if truth be told. (Wonder if I took a picture of them? I'll have to look for it.) I was so thrilled to have these growing. I plucked them all off and got two whole buckets full.

Now, when I say I got two buckets full, please understand that I mean buckets full of the nuts still in the husks. These husks take up a whole lot of room. So, it was that my two buckets of hazelnuts once I removed the outer husks (Yes, that did take quite a bit of time too!) yielded one shallow quiche dish full of nuts. Yes, that was it! Who knew, huh? Well, even with that low turn out I was thrilled. I had never grown a nut I would like to eat. Hazelnuts were always my favorites since I was a kid. The shrubs are rather nice too, although, I'm planning on trimming them up a bit to keep them small. Can't harvest nuts if you can't reach them, now can you?

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