Category Archives: cobnut

in a nutshell….

…I’m in a bit of a quandary.  Do I keep the cobs and filberts as multi-stem stool (Suffolk style) or do I prune to a short leg tree (Kent style)?

Originally inspired by Sissinghurst’s nuttery we planted a double row of Corylus cultivars and left them as multi-stem.  DSC_0163On a recent visit I noticed the nut trees at Snowshill Manor:

DSC_0435 and I liked the structure of the shortleg form… but then I like the structure of the restored old cobnut stool as well….

Picture by Kentish Cobnut Association

Picture by Kentish Cobnut Association

On balance – I think I prefer the multi-stem.  Quandary over.

Today, I have been harvesting the cobnuts.

DSC_0169We started planting these as bare root 3 years ago.  So far we have:

Webb’s Prize Cob; Kentish Cob; Hall’s Giant and Ennis.  Cosford and Gunslebert were added 2 winters back.

Hall’s Giant produced the largest nuts but Ennis was by far the best cropper.

DSC_0173Given that this was only the second year of harvesting, I was very impressed with the haul:

DSC_0176On the advice of the RHS, I started to harvest once the husks turned from green to yellow though in some cases the casings had browned completely – the risk at this stage is that the nuts will drop and be lost in the grass.

DSC_0164Cobs are self sterile and so need pollinating partners to produce nuts.  One of the best pollinators is the common hazel so I may well extend our shelter belt Corylus avellana block.

Whilst I haven’t seen any evidence on the cobs, nut weevil can take hold and ruin the crop so come winter I will clear the ground around the trees and dig over so hopefully any grubs will be exposed.  Happily the rampant squirrel(s), which stripped the old walnut of all this year’s crop, haven’t yet discovered the nuttery and the leaf damage by caterpillars this year was confined to one specimen with minimal impact.

We have a little bit of space at the end of the row to pop in a few more. I’m thinking about getting a couple of specimens of the Red Filbert, a variety that has young red leaves turning green later,  and another US variety, Butler.

Better get searching the nurseries…

like a moth to a …..

well it isn’t a flame, it’s the orchard.  I did notice a while back but it was onlyDSC_0656 when I wandered out to pick the cobs and filberts that I got a good look.  These are the caterpillars of the buff tip moth, (Phalera bucephala), and they are making quite an inroad into the leaves of the nut cultivars – the little blighters.  The caterpillars seem to prefer hanging about in groups.  Their food preferences include many of the common deciduous trees – oak, birch, willow and – oh yes – hazel.  And in our case, not any old hazel.  According to my google source the caterpillars ‘sometimes defoliate whole branches, but rarely caus[e] serious damage’.

DSC_0653Could have fooled me – the cobs are taking quite a battering.  Once the caterpillars have finished gorging themselves on our prized shrubs they’ll drop off and pupate underground and spend the winter tucked up in their chrysalis.  I did look up to see if the caterpillars had any predators in the hope of attracting said predators to a feast but no, not really.  The combination of caterpillar warning colours, bristles and unpleasant taste seems to do the trick when it comes to defence.  If they come back next year  I’ll grab the secateurs and prune them out. At least I managed to harvest a tidy bounty of cobs and filberts from the nuttery


unlike the walnut trees.



Nuts!… Whole Hazelnuts!….

If you are of a certain age you will remember the advert.

The OH and I have been planting in the new orchard again.  The recent days of glorious sunny weather and no rain has dried the field so we rushed out to put in the last of the bare root.

nut walkAlongside the grid of top fruit we have a ‘nut walk’.  I saw one at Sissinghurst and promptly decided that we also needed an avenue of hazels. Picture the lovely carpet of spring flowers before the canopy closes overhead forming a tunnel of dappled green.  Okay, what we actually have is some twiggy things amongst the clumpy grass, however once we start coppicing, (or pollarding depending on whether you speak to me or the OH), it will all come together.

green_cobnutsThe varieties we have  are: Webb’s Prize Cob; the Kentish Cob; Halls Giant; Ennis, Cosford and Gunslebert.  The nuts are self- sterile so the planted mix will ensure good pollination. The catkins are the male flowers – the female bit is a tiny red tuft, pollinated by wind.

The cultivated varieties come from either Corylus avellana, the common hazel or cobnut, which is a native or Corylus maxima, the filbert, which originated in SE Europe through to western Asia.

Fresh green hazelnuts are a real treat.  Though it will be a race between me and the fat squirrel….