Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A cool link about hazelnut farming.

If I could....if I had the land to do it on, I would like to grow hazelnuts....organically. I am not into annual crops in general, in other words, things which require tilling or plowing the soil. First of all, I think it's wrong to plow. Plowing disturbs the microbes in the soil, upsets the layers of bacteria which make soil a living, breathing thing instead of just dirt. It also kills earthworms and insects, and call me a softie, but I don't want to kill the earthworms! Worms are my friends; they process organic matter into the soil, condition the soil and improve its aeration and texture. Mashing and grinding them up into worm hamburger with a rototiller is not only a lot of work, it's unnecessary and counterproductive if you want nice soil.

So I either grow things without tilling, or when possible, I prefer to plant and eat things that are perennial (comes back every year from the roots or shrub) or are from trees. For example, I will buy olive oil but not corn oil or canola oil, because olive oil comes from trees. Trees are an investment, a commitment, a labor of love. Annual crops are a short term relationship, a one night stand.

So if I had a farm, I would do something like hazelnut trees with comfrey (a nutritious herb that has a long taproot and conditions the soil) and alfalfa (which is a legume and puts nitrogen into the soil) underneath, and then run chickens or sheep or really well behaved goats (hahahaha!!) under the trees. A cool thing about hazelnuts is that you can coppice them, i.e. cut the stems (they are multistemmed) for firewood or projects, and the roots will send more stems up again. From such a planting, one could harvest hazelnuts, eggs, pasture/hay, and hazel wood for projects or firewood...every year, with very little work or maintenance after the intial planting. For a little extra work, a person could also plant bulbs for cut flowers such as daffodils to sell in the early spring, and as an added bonus, the daffodils would deter rodents from damaging the hazel tree roots...because daffodil roots are toxic to rodents.

No comments:

Post a Comment