• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Nut Trees and Squirrels

 
Robin Kyle
Posts: 21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am planting 20 Hazelbert bushes this year on Urban plots as edible hedges, and am curious to know how much the squirrels are going to take, and if they are going to take it all what permaculture methods are there to deal with them?
 
David Livingston
steward
Pie
Posts: 2415
Location: Anjou ,France
70
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
given half a chance the little B@@@@@ will take all of them trust me on this

I try to keep the grass short put up preditor nest boxes and encourage dogs to chase them .

David
 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 772
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
35
bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do not know about hazel in particular, but I know the squirrels go nuts on my pecan tree. As it is now I just let them have their cut and still harvest a good amount. They do eat a lot though. I have toyed with the idea of trapping them and using their rotting carcass' to make black soldier fly larvae for the chickens. But I have some local resistance so have yet to go through with it. Something like that would take very little effort on my part and yeild more protein for the chicken.
 
Robin Kyle
Posts: 21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Guys for the input. Do you know if you can net them to prevent the squirrels getting them out? These will not be huge hedges
 
Jennifer Richardson
Pie
Posts: 165
Location: Columbus, Texas, USA (Colorado County). Zone 8b, verging on Zone 9. Humid subtropical, drought prone
25
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you do end up trapping the squirrels, they're actually one of the better-testing game animals, in my opinion. Not "gamey" like venison, and easy to process. Barbecued squirrel is awesome, and many people also batter and fry them (cut up into pieces kind of like chicken), or make squirrel stew out of them.

No experience with hazels, but we have an abundance of squirrels, and they definitely go for our pecans and oaks, but with mature trees we always get far more nuts than the squirrels can eat. We just harvest what falls to the ground, and that's still more than enough. Squirrels are notoriously ingenious, so my gut feeling is that netting the hedge will just end up being a lot of work for no gain, but you can always try. You might have better luck with a guard dog, if that's an option.
 
Charli Wilson
Posts: 230
Location: Derbyshire, UK
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depending where you are, it can be an offence to release grey squirrels- in the UK they're classed as vermin and once captured shouldn't be released!

And I've never worked out a way to keep the squirrels off my almond tree- even though its inside the greenhouse! And there's billions of them, the neighbours think they're cute and feed them
 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
7
bike books dog forest garden tiny house
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1592
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
274
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Perhaps recruit the squirrels to harvest the nuts for you. For example, this box was filled with walnuts soon after being installed.



I can't find the photo right now, but one year I inadvertently left a half bushel basket at the base of the walnut tree. It had a gallon pot in it. The squirrels filled the whole thing with nuts. I emptied it, and it got filled twice more. They poke nuts into every cavity in every tree. They poke nuts into every hole in the ground... Upright cinder-blocks laying on the ground are a nut magnet. One gallon pots are highly favored.

There's a project for a permaculture inventor.... Study squirrels, and test designs, and share blueprints for boxes that are irresistible to squirrels as a stash place for nuts. I think that the best designs will have an easy empty feature so that they can be easily robbed.

 
Roberta Wilkinson
Posts: 174
Location: Washington Timber Country
17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now THAT is a permaculture solution, Joseph. I love it.

My mom found a squirrel's cache of spruce cones in her shed a couple of years ago - mountains of the things! They're very efficient in their collecting.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
42
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Intersting - I wonder if squirrels in the UK would do the same.

A couple of years ago I "harvested" 17 squirrels from our large garden, along with zero walnuts, and zero hazel nuts. Had I been around more I could have easily bagged 50 squirrels over the year.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1592
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
274
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To follow up...

Here's photos of my squirrel powered nut harvester: Those 6" plastic flower pots are really favored by my squirrels. Cinder-block holes are 5-6.5 inches across. Squirrels will stash anywhere there's a hole, but right next to tree trunks seems to be the most popular place. I'm imagining long woven-willow tubes about 6" in diameter strapped to the trunk.

Early morning: After a day's work:

 
Paul Andrews
Posts: 155
Location: Cornwall UK
7
bike books dog forest garden tiny house
 
David Livingston
steward
Pie
Posts: 2415
Location: Anjou ,France
70
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a little confused here . You just put the basket as shown and the blighters fill it up for you ? or are they seperate or upside down, next to the tree far from the tree ?
Here at La Ravardiere they dig holes for the nuts ?
We have Red Squirrel not big enough to eat even if it was legal

David

 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1592
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
274
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David Livingston wrote:I am a little confused here . You just put the basket as shown and the blighters fill it up for you ? [...] next to the tree far from the tree ?
Here at La Ravardiere they dig holes for the nuts?


Yup, just as shown. Set the basket on the ground next to the trunk of the tree. The little blighters fill it up for me... This basket filled once a day. Might have filled more often if I had emptied it mid-day. The small little pots inside the basket are just the right size for stashing...

They dig holes here too. Or just pile nuts on the ground. But, if there is a hole already existing, then it just has to be filled with nuts. Close to the tree is safer from predators than further away, so close gets nuts first.

My neighbor had squirrels fill his 4" irrigation pipes from end to end with nuts one winter!!! Ha!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1592
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
274
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Katrina Jones wrote:Here is a trick I read about enlisting help from the squirrels for harvesting. Place a few 5-gallon buckets filled with sawdust around the hazelnut shrubs/trees. The squirrels know which ones are good and harvest them. They will (hopefully) be inclined to bury them in the buckets of sawdust. You can then collect them for yourself, but be nice and leave some ears of non-GMO corn for them in the sawdust. I will be planting my hazelnuts next spring and will try this method. Let me know if it works for any of you.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1592
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
274
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'm imagining long woven-willow tubes about 6" in diameter strapped to the trunk.


Another follow-up. I noticed that a squirrel filled the bird-feeder with nuts this week. They were weighed and analyzed for integrity. Even though they are last year's crop about 90% of the nuts are still palatable. The bird feeder is about a 4" diameter tube made from vinyl covered hardware cloth. It is hanging about 6 feet up on the trunk of a walnut tree.



 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am so excited to try letting the squirrels work for me this year. Thank you Joseph Lofthouse! It is a huge daily job of picking up every chestnut as it hits the ground. We knock down the ripe ones when possible. The squirrels are worthy competition, they love chestnuts.

They plant a lot of trees for us too. So many chestnut saplings pop up in odd places. One spot is a nursery bed with twenty little trees in it.

Squirrel: verb, "to squirrel away"
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1592
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
274
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm looking forward to photos and/or descriptions this fall of how people arranged for the squirrels to pick nuts for them... My squirrels pick nuts from the tree and store them in the collection baskets. They also pick them up off the ground... Now if I could only figure out how to get them to de-husk the nuts in the fall.
 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Netting the hazelnut bushes may help. Especially if the squirrels don't know about them yet and the squirrel population is small.

I would be concerned about tapping the squirrels in netting! I have trapped birds and on one sad occasion a snake that didn't make it.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 294
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Are nuts clean after they've been harvested by squirels? Since squirels are related to rats and rats' nests are thilthy. I can't help but wonder. Also , I'm a little OCD.
 
Roberto pokachinni
Posts: 677
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
50
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I once had a serious problem with resident squirrels invading the ceiling of my cabin. There was a massive colony in and under a fir tree nearby upslope, and they were harvesting every hazelnut on every wild shrub within several hundred yards of the cabin. They were driving me nuts (pun not intended), as they are partially nocturnal and they would make a real racket in the night, and kept me up. They would also chastise me with a chattering racket when I came into the cabin. One night though there was a loud sound or combination of sounds and I woke from a daze of half sleep and exhaustion, and simply had to get up to sort out what had happened. The kitchen ceiling had collapsed. They had filled the insulated cavity between the hanging ceiling and the roof with hazelnuts to the point that it couldn't hold the weight!! Anyway, I got a lot of nuts that year, but they were all under-ripe. I had to roast them well to make them palatable.
I have read about burying scrap plumbing pipe in the leaves under nut trees (was it in one of Mollison's books?--to much info in the brain right now, sorry). Set these pipes up, or connect a bunch in formations with some end caps that will not collect water, and the squirrels will fill them. It has been noticed that squirrels may harvest most of the nuts on certain trees, but they do not eat them all. In fact they seem to store way more than they eat. If one leaves 10 to 15% for the squirrels, you will have a healthy population of happy harvesters to help gather food for the nuttery.

Are nuts clean after they've been harvested by squirels?


Hazelnuts have a green husk, then a hard nut case, then the nut sealed inside, so I doubt that the rodent nastiness that some fear will infect the crop, as long as the nutcase is solid.

That said, the Native Americans who lived in the SW harvested pinon pine nuts from the burrows of pack rats... and in order to access the rat nests they had to break through the rat's shit midden outside the nest. The result was that people would sometimes develop severe respiratory problems that were directly related to something in the fecal matter. The big difference here beyond the shit midden step, is also that the pine nut is virtually uncased, and has just a thin wrapper over the tender meat once it has been removed from the sappy cone, and thus would also be much more possible to have contamination from rodent diseases. I know that I read this somewhere, but it has been years since I did my travelling and studying in the desert lands of Utah, Arizona, and California.
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 353
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bumping so people don't forget this year!
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic