As the climate is changing and UK seasons are heating up, nuts are being grown more than ever by English farmers. Nut trees are also helpful for biodiversity on farms, improving soil health. Guy Singh-Watson, who founded the organic vegetable box company Riverford, began experimenting with hazelnut and walnut trees on his 150-acre Devon farm after having doubt about the amount of he ploughing he did to his fields to grow vegetable crops.
Singh-Watson: “The vegetables that we grow are pretty much all annuals and involve cultivation of the soil, and increasingly over the years I’ve got more and more uncomfortable with that. It’s kind of our Achilles heel really. Three years ago we lost 10,000 tons of soil in 10 minutes. I am just full of shame for that. It happened on my watch, I don’t want to be responsible for it happening again.”
Singh-Watson said he has enjoyed his recent foray into growing nuts, and loves them so much that he eats them for breakfast every morning. He said they were easy to grow: “You don’t have to do anything, I spent 40 years trying to coax vegetables into life and they just die all the time, but hazels grow so well. There doesn’t seem to be any problem growing walnuts in our climate.”
Though they sometimes need irrigation when first planted, nut trees do well in warm weather and can survive dry summers.