That’s our newest crop on the farm and this is what it’s all about. Hazelnuts! Tasty, crunchy filberts! The fruits of our labors. We planted 700 of these babies. And that in itself was a big job. Our first challenge was to square a section of the field, then stake out the rows before digging a lot of holes and planting the nursery stock. (More on that nursery stock here.) The trees are little more than long, spindly twigs when you get them, with a wisp of roots along a J root where they’ve been cut from the mother tree. After planting in the winter months, you wait until spring to see a bushy tuft of green at the end of that spindly twig.
They’re about three and four years old now, most of them. We planted half one year and half the next.
Our biggest jobs now are watering and flailing.
My son-in-law Robin Loznak does the flailing, which is a serious form of mowing. The flail, drawn behind a tractor, cuts and chops the grass and weeds close to the ground.
And in the summer I water. We haven’t been able to put in a water system yet, so I’m the water system. We have a waterline that feeds out to the edge of the new orchard. So from that I attach about 300 feet of garden hose, with which I can reach about half the orchard. Then I attach the hoses to a long plastic hose running down the center to get the rest.
In previous years I’ve watered at least three times during the summer. But this year most of the trees are old enough that they don’t need watered as often–which is fortunate because it’s been a busy summer for me with all the book events. However, we do have a few new babies we planted last winter to fill gaps where we had a few losses, and we needed to add some more pollinizer varieties. Robin brought out the big guns to help out, using a spray tank behind the tractor to give those brand new trees some extra water. He calls this his “other office.” He took this photo of the tractor and tank with his cell phone. And in one of his other lives he’s the photographer who did the wonderful farm photos for my book.
It’s a pleasant field to work in, with the river flowing alongside, the rapids whispering with a steady wash.
We won’t have enough of these nuts to harvest for another three or four years, but they’re scattered throughout the orchard, and we might find enough for some good munching.