I had a little nut tree

Despite its haphazard and uncultivated existence, I was pleased to notice on a trip to the compost heap, that our hazel tree is bearing nuts.  It is not going to be an incredibly bountiful crop I must say, but you can improve your nut tree’s productivity by a process known as ‘brutting’.

Going Nuts at the Sustainable Living Project

Hazels can be coppiced (cut back hard) in Winter and the stems used for a variety of garden purposes, such as providing bean supports and, depending on your level of skill, more intricate garden structures.  Flowers, and ultimately nuts, tend to be concentrated along the lengths of wood that are one year old. (This explains why our untended tree does not crop heavily, it’s for the chop this winter though!) 

If you want this year’s new shoots to bear plenty of flowers next spring August is the time to brut.  This simply means that you snap down, but don’t break off, the upper half of the new shoots.  This encourages flower formation rather than upward growing. 

I’m probably a bit late to do this for our tree this year, but I’ve found a few nice young plants on the disused railway behind the house.  Last year some local pony riders took it upon themselves to slash back a lot of the tree growth on the track and so these hazels have plenty of new growth to practice my brutting skills on.  A spot of wild guerilla gardening is called for I think!

For this year I will just have to make sure I get to the few nuts we have before the squirrels do. It is possible to eat them while still fresh and green in September, but I would like some ripened nuts for Christmas. 

As I proudly showed off my tree to my friend Alan, who walks past here most days on his way to do ranging duties at a local wildlife park, he suggested I forgot the nuts and just ate the squirrels instead.  Maybe!

You might also be interested in potted christmas trees.

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