Tag Archives: Hazelnuts

I’m Nuts over Hazelnuts, Puppy, Vaccines, Cats, Solar, Goats, Garden, and Gord

I finally got my garlic planted, 350 Hazelnut trees have arrived in the nursery, the puppy is sleeping, municipal elections are over, goats are milked, it’s raining finally, and Gord is on a job site today…so I can sit down and write a quick blog post.

Nina Died

Our amazingly special Nina dog has died. It was a gut wrenching shock for us both to have to make the final decision of her life with virtually no warning. She basically collapsed one evening after a council meeting and in the middle of the night, after an emergency scan, we learned that fluid had built up around her heart…ironically just like our last dog Boo. Apparently there was also a mass on her heart likely causing the fluid build up. We brought her home and buried her right out front and had our own special ceremony. We are becoming more acquainted with death and felt gratitude for sharing 7 years with this special being.

Municipal Campaign

Nina’s death occurred right at the beginning of a very busy election time. Our campaign was filled with learning, listening, reflection, collaboration, excitement, and the ever-present uncertainty of what the results will be. The good news is that both of us were easily re-elected…the bad news is that Gord received 8 more votes that me.


The campaign took a lot of time and energy, so we really have not spent much time in the garden or nursery, and also got behind in some fall food processing and harvesting. However, because of the incredibly long fall and seemingly never ending summer, we got some extra time to catch up.

I just got the last of my 320 garlic planted in four different garden beds. Still have to harvest fuzzy kiwi, and persimmons.

Last years garden plan

This past garden year was different…very different. Very poor pollination of apples, pears, and plums due to the wet cold spring, still no walnuts, and only one chestnut. But for every crop that fails, we have crops that thrive. Perennial veggies thrived, as did olives, broccoli and cauliflower. Our root veggies kicked butt this year. Hazelnuts are proving to be rock solid for us.

Thanks to our cats, the rats didn’t eat all our olives this year.


Our tiny cats Stormy and Sparky are thriving and bring us a rodent most days. They are truly amazing little hunters that fill us with such joy and gratitude for their gifts, cuddles, and cat antics. Our gardens are safe from excessive rodent predation but yes we still do some sharing…especially with the abundant bird population thriving on this land. Since we embarked on the re-wilding of this land with human created food systems, we have actually put the system out of balance. More intense food availability means more creatures eating it…which means denser populations of birds and rodents can be supported. Adding two cats who mostly hunt rodents, yet still kill a few birds does not negatively harm the ecosystem overall…in fact adding predators into the system can help bring a system like ours back into balance.


Our goats, Dabha and Gemma are thriving with all the goat food growing here in the food forest and the annual gardens. Too much zucchini is impossible. Sometimes we take them to the food on a leash, and sometimes we bring the food to them. Our goats eat about half the amount of hay that they would otherwise eat without the food inputs from this land. We no longer have to bring in outside inputs (manure or mulch).

Dabha’s milk production has slowed whey down, so it was time for a trip to my neighbours for servicing by her buck Giordie. Dabha was clearly in heat with lots of tail wagging, calling, and frisky behaviour and Giordie did not disappoint. It was love at first sight with lots of kissing, nibbling, nuzzling, and frisky fore play. Success…we think. Due date is March 5th if all goes well.

Hazelnuts have arrived in the Nursery

Woohoo, it’s time to go nuts. Hazelnuts have become a food security tree for us on so many levels. The trees grow fast and produce lots of nuts in a very short number of years. The leaves are a goat favourite and the trees are very generous producers. Hazelnuts are also used successfully in grey water systems. Roots of hazelnuts produce thick carbon sequestering mats. Yes, squirrels do eat the nuts, but they also plant more trees everywhere. The invasive grey squirrel is also good eating if you are so inclined. The little native brown squirrel gets to eat all the nuts they desire. We are grateful to the generous hazelnut tree and Nina, Stormy, and Sparky for alerting us to squirrels.

We bulk ordered 350 EFB resistant hazelnuts so that we can offer a really good price in the nursery. Most trees are $35 with only “Dorris” being offered at $40. Includes GST. All in 1 gallon pots. We prefer to sell these in groups of three or four for the best pollination.

Option 1: Dorris, Yamhill, Theta for $110

Option 2: Jefferson, Yamhill, Theta (or Gamma or Eta) for $105

Option 3 (four trees): Dorris, Jefferson, Yamhill, Theta (or Gamma or Eta) for $145

Please enquire with us for options for 5 or more trees.

All sales are by private appointment. Full Inventory list is here:

Please email at ann@eco-sense.ca

Stormy the cat is in the back of the box.

Pumpkin, our new puppy.

So with Nina now pushing up daisies in our front yard, we open our hearts again to a new love. Pumpkin Pie Baird is our new rescue mutt. She came into our hearts on Halloween at the age of 8 weeks. She will likely be a mid sized dog just like her mom Joni. They both look like Huskies. She’s smart, affectionate, busy, and full of love and cuddles. She is being partly raised by cats and has already learned how to hunt rats with the cats, hide in boxes, and vocalize and swat like a cat. Part of the team! Pumpkin Storms are common around here with hours of play…the best being when Stormy hides in the paper bag and pumpkin pulls her around and then sits on her.


Humans are in OVERSHOOT. I don’t think there would be a population biologist in the world that would disagree with this statement. If you disagree with this statement I would suggest you hit the textbooks or skip this section.

When any population, (whether it be rats, monocultures, bacteria in a petri dish, or humans), exceeds the carrying capacity of the environment, nature will re-balance the population with built in systems like disease and pests.

In our current human situation we long ago reached this OVERSHOOT point but we put our smart brains to work and figured out how to expand into new more hostile environments with less easy resources. But humanity still didn’t take the hint with scarce resources and further utilized our amazing technologies to grow more food and extract even more energy from the earth…with great costs to the atmosphere, the soil, the air, and the oceans.

Humanity has now reached EIGHT BILLION PEOPLE and there is not enough habitat or resources left on planet earth for all the other living beings to exist. It’s not simply about “fixing” climate change or sharing resources more equally amongst the 8,000,000,000 people, it’s about how much of the earth is covered in our bodies and absorbing our wastes. We are large mammals…there’s only so much space on planet earth for large mammals…PERIOD. This is precisely why in the last 50 years the earth has LOST 50% of the wildlife.

Here’s a puppy and cat video to change the subject.

Which brings me to vaccines…and Covid, and viruses, and any disease really. This is what nature does when a population is in OVERSHOOT. But yet the human brain kicks in again and creates vaccines to protect people from disease. Vaccines work. Do I want a disease? NO! Do I want my family and friends or community to get sick? NO! Do I want anyone to suffer? NO!

So yes, Gord and I are fully vaccinated and we urge others to get vaccinated too. But isn’t this a contradiction that will allow humanity to go even further into OVERSHOOT by using vaccine technology? YUP! The basic ecological rule in OVERSHOOT is that the further a population or system goes into OVERSHOOT the harder it will be to rebalance the system…but the system WILL rebalance.

No time to get depressed however, there is much we can do to help nature rebalance HUMAN OVERSHOOT in a more ethical controlled way. De-growth will occur, but humanity can still have a say as to how that will happen. Will it happen with war, scarcity, and disease, or will it happen with love, sharing, global family planning, education, equity, compassion, and re-wilding the earth? Here’s an essay to read or listen to by Robin Wall Kimmerer on “An Economy of Abundance”. https://emergencemagazine.org/essay/the-serviceberry/

Gord is currently experiencing his own personal OVERSHOOT and he knows that he must slow down before his health suffers. We all know it’s much better to be proactive in these situations. Gord will be taking the next few months to catch up on some of his work commitments while saying no to some interesting opportunities that come his way. He loves his work…but there’s only one Gord. Personal de-growth in productivity balanced with growth in Well-Being.

Solar PV

No, we don’t think solar is going to save the world from OVERSHOOT…only de-growth in a cooperative nature-based relocalized economy can perhaps help. But electrifying our energy grid is a small piece. For us our solar and other food, water, and waste systems certainly bring more resilience.

Our first goal was to reduce our use of burning firewood and propane (GHGs). So we looked into a heat pump. But with our current heating infrastructure it seemed very inefficient…not to mention the use of more climate damaging refrigerants. There is heat pump technology that uses CO2 as the refrigerant and heats hot water. This would tie in beautifully to our existing high temperature in floor heating system that ties in with our solar hot water. This would be a sweet system indeed…but sadly is not yet doable unless we purchase a new separate industrial system rather than tie into our existing solar boiler. To make a long story short, we are going to supplement our heating requirements with our electric element in our solar boiler. Simple and with the least amount of new infrastructure.

By swapping out our sixteen 170W solar PV panels with twelve newer 480W panels we more than double our PV output and can heat our home, charge our ebikes, and use electricity for cooking rather than propane. With the costs of all forms of combustion based energy rising this makes the most ecological and economical sense for us. Firewood this year was $500 a cord!

We will be selling our sixteen 170W panels along with two Outback MX60 charge controllers sometime in Feb. Please contact us with enquiries.


Ann and Gord

Sat May 3rd Farm Gates Sales Open House (10am-2pm)

Keeping our Pawpaws off our nuts!

It’s SPRING at Eco-Sense,  and it started with a vibrant burst of activity on our first farm gate open house  (saturday April 26th), which was surprisingly more hectic than we imagined.   Over 40 people wandered through our specialized perennial food nursery and the hilltop gardens and trails like pollen floating and spreading on the breeze.    Our day was spent informing people of the details of the various plants, sharing Mud Puddle stories and cuddles, and  selling out of our eggs too!

Mudpuddle the duck leading another tour

Mudpuddle the duck leading another tour

Eco-Sense Map:  Parking at bottom of both driveways or up top.

Eco-Sense Map: Parking at bottom of both driveways or up top.

This Saturday  (May 3rd) and every saturday from 10 am to 2 pm until June 28th, we’ll be at it again, and its going to be nuts.  For specific details on the open house check out our last blog post here:  OPEN FARM DETAILS:



It was a busy week here at Eco-Sense with 6 tour groups, including five grade 6 classes and ending the week with our very successful open house.  0ver 220 people personally greeted Mudpuddle and the ducklings and many purchased perennial plants and eggs.


Slug Patrol

Slug Patrol




Speaking of nuts,besides our regular mix of Actinidia arguta/kolomikta/delisiosa, Cornus kousa/mas, Elaeagnus multiflora/umbellata…   and 40 other edible perennial plants, we will have the limited selection of Paw Paws (Asimina trilba) new this week – North America’s largest fruit that is best described as a cross between a mango and banana and cold hardy to -30C.  Even more exciting is our nuts!

Crosne.  Edible small tuber with awesome fast growing ground cover

Crosne. Edible small tuber with awesome fast growing ground cover

One of the most important features lacking in the local food security landscape is the lack of nut trees in the region.  There are some around, very healthy planted many years ago, but it became more fashionable to plant inedible nuts like the horse chestnut, which line countless streets in Victoria.   We want to change that and have choice edibles that suit the yards, spaces and community gardens with our Japanese Chestnuts, Chinese Chestnuts, American X Chinese chestnuts, Yellow Horn, and of course the most exciting being the Oregon State University (OSU) Hazelnut cultivars.    Our walnut and ultra northern hardy pecan seedlings are just sprouting and won’t be available till next year.

Oca.  Lemony mini potatoes

Oca. Lemony mini potatoes

The chestnuts are the big main trees in a guild, the hazelnuts are the next layer at 12-15 ft.  For those who don’t know our excitement over the hazelnuts, we had been trying to bring in the Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) resistant varieties from the OSU Breeding program for 6 years!   We finally have them thanks to Thom Odell of OSU,from Nature Tech, who jumped through the hoops with the tissue cultures, built his own lab and started growing the trees.   We ordered in 100 trees in the fall for this spring, we virtually sold out and have brought in more.  Good timing too, as virtually all the stock from the lab/breeder has been snapped up due to the EFB hitting the hazelnut nurseries on the island, with Courtenay growers being the latest victim having to replace all their trees, and it is working its way down island.

We have Jefferson, Yamhill, Theta, Sacajawea, Gamma and Eta, and based on your available space, we can set up a pairing of  two/three/four hazelnuts of cross pollinating trees for you.

Weekly Plant Profiles

10173567_699710030072266_2423639426299758704_nEach week we will be posting a plant profile as our way to introduce the perennial food plants that we deem viable components in a local food system.  It was hard to choose this week’s, Should it be Paw Paws, Chestnuts, Cornelian Cherry, Perennial Leek, Crosne, Oca, the Kiwis… this week it is the Hazelnuts (Corylus avellana).  To learn more about perennial permaculture plants you may be interested in this Hatchet & Seed workshop coming up on MAY 10th.


Hazelnut – Corylus avellana

Why Hazelnuts?

Hazelnuts have been a food source in this region for millennia, one of the few historical and consistent nut crops. High in fats and protein (and thus calories), stores well, and easily. That said, sadly over the past 2 years there has been a crash in the trees caused from Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB), and this EFB has finally hit Vancouver Island. This has been expected, and thus there has been a ban in BC on importing nuts that may exacerbate this, though this ban has also not allowed the growers to prep for this before now. The good news is that the Oregon State University has been researching this and creatied a breeding program to create EFB resistant varieties, that are hardier and more robust. For 6 years we have been trying to gain access but the ban has stopped us, until now… and we now carry legal OSU EFB resistant hazelnuts.

Hazelnuts are well suited for the PNW and we are one of the few places in the world where the climate is ideal, with good moisture, cold hours and pollinating conditions.

Hazelnuts require multiple cultivars for cross pollination. Some culstivars are ‘support’ trees for the ‘production’ trees, though all cultivars will bear nuts. The pollinating season is broken down into early, mid and late season, so we sell the trees in packages to match your site.


Hazelnuts can be grown as a dwarf multi-stemmed shrub to 10 feet or in tree form up to 12-15ft with the pruning of the suckers. They are wind pollinated where the ale catkins pollen is blown onto the tiny female flowers starting in January up into April.   We have found that they are great grey water plants (like our figs) so fit into grey water systems wonderfully.   When the young trees hit 4 ft tall, we snip off the top and begin to let them branch out.


Space trees about 10-15 feet apart. We plant in groups, or in line with the prevailing spring winds to take advantage of the pollen spread.

Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball (we dig our about 18” deep and wide), and roughen the sides of the hole so there are no smooth walls, as this allows root growth into parent soil. Amend the hole with half compost and half native soil with two handfuls of bone meal – fill the hole halfway. Remove the tree from the pot, ensure the root ball is wet, and separate the roots as best as possible so there are at least four of the larger radial roots heading in different directions (place the largest root the direction of the prevailing winds). At this time if you wish, add a mycorhizae innoculant to the roots – we use Mycogrow and Myke Shrub inoculants. Back fill slowly, ensuring to get the amended soil all the way around (no air pockets). Once planted, mulch in a 18” radius and water thouroughly to help set the soil and moisten up the surrounding native soil. Once the tree is 4 feet tall trim the tip to begin the branching process.

4 tree package – ($180)

Jefferson, Yamhill, Gamma/Sacajawea, Eta/Theta

3 tree package ($140)

Jefferson, Yamhill, Sacajawea
Jeferson, Theta, Yamhill

2 Tree Packages ($90)

Jefferson, Theta/Eta
Yamhill, Gamma
Yamhill, Sacajawea
Sacajawea, Gama

 The perfect 10 tree orchard ($450)

3 jefferson, 1 Eta, 1 Theta, 2 Sacajawea, 1 Gamma, 2 Yamhil