I hope that no apology is needed for introducing into this series a short chapter on Nuts. The Nut is accepted as a fruit, and it has a recognised position as such in the markets, yet most fruit books ignore it. I do not pretend that the Nut is an important fruit, for it is not; but considering that it is grown by the acre in some parts of Great Britain, and is cultivated by not a few amateurs, there is room for a brief reference.
In the first place, it may be pointed out that most of the cultivated Nuts are varieties of the common Hazel, Corylus Avellana. Thus the popular Lambert Filbert becomes botanically Corylus Avellana Lamberti. Nuts are spoken of variously as Nuts, Cobs and Filberts, and in case these terms may cause doubt or confusion, it may be well to give the synopsis of the "Fruit Manual." This makes four sections, the first being Filberts, which have oblong Nuts, with husks much longer than the fruit; the second Spanish, with ovate Nuts, and husks as long as, or a little longer than, the fruit; the third Cobs, with Nuts roundish and angular, and the husks as long as, or a little longer than, the fruit; the fourth Hazels, with small, roundish, thick-shelled Nuts, and husks much shorter than the fruit.
A, portion of last year's shoot: a, bloom, buds; b, female flowers; c, wood buds; d, male flowers or catkins.
B, natural spur produced on wood of preceding year: e, bloom bud; f, female flower; g, wood buds; h, two years old wood.
J, one year old wood; 2, two years old wood; 3, three, years old wood; i, leading growth shortened to a wood bud, with catkins produced from base; j, side shoot terminated by a bloom bud; k, natural spur with wood bud at extremity; l, vigorous side shoot shortened to wood bud with catkins produced from base; m, short side shoot with bloom and wood buds alternating; n, side branch that has borne fruit and become weakened in consequence, with points of long and short pruning; o, bloom buds; p, wood buds.
But that these definitions are not always adhered to is shown by the fact that the Lambert Filbert is known as the Kentish Cob, and even as the "Filbert Cob."
With respect to varieties, let it be said at once that the Cosford, Lambert, and White Filbert are three of the very best. With its great productiveness, thin shell, and fine flavour, Cosford seems to me to present itself as the one to choose if a single sort is wanted.
Like most other fruits, Nuts are generally fated to a fairly long occupancy of the ground on which they are planted, and the soil should therefore be well cultivated for them, being trenched and manured. Trees full of suckers should be sternly rejected, and specimens on clean stems chosen. Half-standards or standards, having stems 3 to 6 feet long, can be had, but dwarfs with stems of not more than 2 feet are better. In Kent such trees are common, and they are trained in the shape of a basin, with the centres open. The leaders are shortened soon after planting, and the resulting growths shortened again to provide a choice of shoots for giving the shape of the basin. Shoots that commence to grow towards the centre are at once cut out, and only upward and outward growing branches preserved.
The annual pruning after the tree is formed is a matter for judgment, and the first essential to correct procedure is a knowledge of the character of the tree. Nuts have two forms of flower - the Nut-bearer, a little reddish tuft at the top of a plump bud, and the male, a cylindrical grey catkin, bearing yellowish pollen. Both are necessary to fruitfulness.
Those whose experience is not great enough to enable them to tell what is and what is not going to develop into a Nut-bearing flower should defer pruning until the reddish tufts show, otherwise they may cut away the crop.
When this stage is reached go over each of the main branches in turn, and shorten each of the side shoots bearing both catkins and Nut-bearers to The catkin, or in the absence of a catkin to about 3 inches long, taking care, however, not to cut below the fruit buds. Short shoots terminating in a fruit bud may be left untouched. Older wood that does not show bloom buds may be shortened freely.