In the Garden | Growing hazelnuts and almonds

One of the five sacred nourishments of ancient China, the hazelnut has been a food source for centuries.

Preserved pollen counts in peat bogs dated to 8000 BC imply they were among the dominant vegetation after the last ice age.

The first of the cultivated nuts probably came from Turkey.

Though eaten for pleasure, they were also considered to have medicinal value.

'The first of the cultivated nuts probably came from Turkey. Though eaten for pleasure, they were also considered to have medicinal value.'

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Dressed with vinegar and seeds of the wormwood it must have been a very sour dish, used as they were for jaundice.

Timber from the tree was used as cudgels, wands and divining rods.

NUTS TO TRY: There are two ways to grow hazelnut trees - which one could work at your place?

NUTS TO TRY: There are two ways to grow hazelnut trees - which one could work at your place?

The hazelnut can be grown in one of two ways: as a small tree with four or five branches being retained to form a crown or a hedge, when the basal suckers are left to become part of the overall shape; or the single trunked tree method, which makes for easier harvest and cultivation as nuts tend to get lodged in the centre making they difficult to retrieve. On the other hand they can be readily retrieved with the use of a vacuum cleaner.

Almond blossom is susceptible to the last of the spring frost, but they will still bear in a spring climate.

In common with other nut trees, the earliest of the pale pink blossom makes a welcome addition to the spring display.

Apart from a judicious shaping in the early years, almonds seldom require shaping.

The deep-rooted trees can withstand dry conditions, but to obtain a healthy crop mid-summer irrigation in essential.

Most almonds require a cross-pollinaton, however, a number of nurseries carry useful stocks of multi-rafted trees - a boon for the gardener with limited space.

Walnuts require a deep fertile soil that contains plenty of organic matter. In poorly drained ground, the trees are susceptible to root rot and usually fail to thrive.

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