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Last updated August 5, 2013

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to basic questions about how we sell our plants and why, as well as some of the most frequent questions we get about growing them. You will not find a lot of specific instructions for how to plant or grow our hybrids here, for in-depth information see the Info section.

Can I just drive to Badgersett and buy plants or nuts?

New! Yes, during the open hours for the Hazel Maze: check the Hazel Maze Facebook Page for our schedule. Note that availability varies, and plants in particular are not available out of season; we hope to have a listing of currently available products in the future. We don't have a store here, just a farm and a greenhouse. We don't have any sales staff, but we do now have greenhouse employees during regular work hours Monday-Thursday. Almost all of our sales are made through the website. If you drop in hoping to buy plants, it's entirely possible we may have a greenhouse full of them but none available for sale— they may be already sold. The one exception is our Annual Field Day, which is always on the 3rd Saturday in August; we do try to have plants available for sale then. Yes, visitors are welcome at any time, but you may have to be satisfied with a self-guided tour.

I've ordered plants from Badgersett. When will I receive them?

We wish we had a simple answer, but the fact is it depends a great deal on the weather. Our greenhouses depend on sunlight for heat, and when we hit a cloudy/rainy spell, the plants grow slowly. They can't be shipped before they're big enough. It also depends on your place in the order queue, and it depends on how fast the seed has been germinating recently, and maybe a couple of other things. We know you need to be able to plan when you are going to plant, and we'll try to help you out, but there some unavoidable uncertainties.

We will fill orders in the order payment is received, and many customers place their orders as early as August of the previous year. Orders made last week will probably NOT be shipped next week. For large orders (as defined on the ordering page) the nonrefundable 50% deposit is sufficient payment to reserve your place in line.

To check on the status of your order, send us an email, and we will get back to you as soon as we can– currenty this may take more than a week. Orders with higher priority on the shipping queue also have higher priority for status responses.

I've indicated I want to pick up my plants at Badgersett. How do I know when they are ready?

We will call you about a week ahead of when they will be ready for you. The order form includes a spot for your telephone number. This is where we put that to good use.

We'll need to hear back from you as to exactly when you expect to get here. As stated above, we do not have any "sales" staff, and we do not always have staff available (particularly on weekends), so we need to be sure someone will be on hand to get you your plants. Either call and leave us a message at (888) 557-4211 x5 (toll free), or email us, letting us know what day and hour you expect to arrive here.

If you have to reschedule with less than 3 days notice we will have to charge a second handling fee, since we schedule our other greenhouse and field work around confirmed pick-ups.

Be aware that the road down to the greenhouse is grass and dirt, and not drivable in rain! Even 4-wheel-drive vehicles will damage our poor road when it's wet. If you get here to pick up your plants on a rainy day, we'll help you get your plants to your car, in our hill-top parking lot. It may be a wet walk in to track us down, though. Knowing when to expect you will help.

What is a "tubeling"?

Please see our tubeling page.

What's the point to a tubeling? Why not just sell plain old "bare-root dormant" nursery stock?

There are several reasons. Our goal is to get the strongest plants we can into our customers' hands, as affordably as possible, so farmers can start making real crops. Tubelings are our best answer, so far, though we continue to work on other pathways.

The ideal way to get a nut tree or bush started would be to just plant a nut right where you want the tree. Then the plant could grow roots without being disturbed and settle right in to its future home. The problem with this is animals—everything that walks or flies will search out and eat chestnuts and hazelnuts. The little green shoot of the new seedling is just a convenient flag for the animals, showing them where to dig. It may be hard to believe, but we seriously estimate that hazelnuts and chestnuts are on the order of 10,000 times more attractive to animals than the familiar grain of corn or soybean. There are complex reasons why, but part of it has to do with the relative wildness of the plants. The nuts' main purpose in life is to attract an animal of some kind, be picked up, and carried away from the parent so it will have a chance to grow. Corn and beans, on the other hand, have been through thousands of years of selection for their ability to NOT attract animals. What grows in our fields is what the animals failed to find or didn't want.

Adding to the confusion here is the fact that many people have planted a few nuts and have gotten away with it. We did, too. But what happens when you start planting large fields, with many nuts, is that the animals start signaling their relatives, friends, and competitors —"Hey! There's a big pile of food here!"—and they start concentrating their search efforts on your nut planting.

There are, in fact, ways to protect direct field planted nuts so they survive, but the methods are time-consuming and very expensive on even a moderate scale, and it takes time for new growers to really learn them so they work. Planting seed directly can be much the same as tossing dollars into the ocean, nearly always. It's just not economically workable, particularly with high-value seed of improved hybrids. It can be done if you are making a wildlife planting and have a lot of wild seed available.

Point 1: Hazels are difficult and relatively expensive to move as bare-root dormant stock, because they tend to start growing so early in the season that, about half of the time, they are all leafed out and growing by the time the soil is dry enough to dig in the spring. Some big nurseries can get around this by digging their plants in the fall, then storing them in special refrigerated buildings until spring. We don't have that many millions of dollars floating around, though. Also, hazels that are one year old and field grown can also have so large a root system that they are both difficult to dig and too big to fit through a standard forestry tree planter. The machine will break the roots badly. Chestnuts also grow big root systems fast, though in other ways they transplant fairly well. They will, however, often grow slowly the first 2 years after transplanting by the bare root method.

Point 2: In many, many cases, planting younger nursery stock will actually give the buyer much better performance than transplanting bigger, older, plants. You get not just less expensive plants, but bigger plants quicker. Moving a big plant is a big shock to it, and the bigger the plant, the bigger the shock. Often, such plants will grow slowly for several years while they recover. Meanwhile, a much younger and smaller plant, put in the ground at the same time, will often grow bigger than the more expensive large transplant. Since it doesn't have to deal with transplant shock and healing damaged or destroyed roots, it just grows and grows. Lots of consumers have a hard time believing this, and they want to plant the biggest trees they can. It is satisfying to look out and see a tree right after you plant it. Lots of nurseries are glad to sell them expensive big trees.

We aim to get our tubelings to you with a healthy young root system and in an active growth phase. If you get them planted in a timely way, they should just take hold and keep right on growing through the end of the year. Done right, these plants will be as big as a 2-year-old field grown plant in one year, and they will be set to take off again the next year.

Point 3: The nuts. Animals love 'em. Planted out in the field, the great majority of nuts will wind up as wildlife fodder, not as plants. When we were trying to scale up from our early research days, when we planted nuts in between rows of corn and pumpkins to hide them, there were 2 years in a row when we planted 10,000 hazelnuts and harvested about 800 plants. In spite of enormous efforts to control the critters, from electric fences designed for raccoons to fabric row covers to protect them from woodpeckers, sooner or later, all defenses would be penetrated. The critters, after all, have nothing better to do but work 24 hours a day to get at this delicious, nutritious, aromatic food. They will. For valuable breeding material and controlled hybrids, planting in a field is death. So we were really forced to build a secure, mouse-proof greenhouse. And having done so, we find the tubelings are in fact the most economical way to produce healthy, vigorous, planting stock. They are what we plant ourselves, in the great majority of cases.

Our tubelings are actually independent of the nut when we ship them. It's still there, as a "luxury" food source for the seedling, but it's not necessary. Often, mice or other critters will steal the nut off newly planted tubelings. The plants should stand this easily, being too big to be easily pulled out of the ground, and the plant will grow just fine without the nut. In fact, that's what most often occurs in nature—in our experience, a nut seedling is just a flag to waiting wildlife showing them where a nut is. The critters eat the nut, but the seedling survives. (If you are planting in very sandy or loose soil, we recommend you pull the nut off yourself at planting, to avoid making the newly planted tubelings attractive to animals. In a few sandy places, whole plants have been pulled right out of the ground by raccoons or squirrels after the nut.)

Point 4 is the work involved. The young tubelings have a small but vigorous and actively growing root system, and are easily handled and planted with little work. Digging holes for bigger plants quickly becomes a very serious chore, making large plantings expensive and difficult.

Point 5 is timing: Bare root dormant nursery stock must be planted in early spring. This can make your spring work schedule crowded, and if the weather does not cooperate, you may not get any planting done at all. Tubelings are far more flexible and can be held for quite a long time if planting must be delayed. At Badgersett, for years we've planted tubelings in May, June, July, August, and September. All summer, right in the heat. It works, giving you much greater flexibility in your plans. In zone 5, planting can go on into October. Tubelings are not big enough to be planted in early Spring, when they might face late frosts, so worrying about getting land ready for planting in April (wet and cold) is not necessary.

Can I buy seed from Badgersett and grow my own plants?

Update: The following paragraphs still apply, but our increased production of chestnut and hazel seed have us seriously considering selling seed for some categories of parents, possibly as early as late 2013. We still have some work to do in order to make nut shipping reliable and an integrated part of our operations. Hickory and Select seed will still be unavailable for some time, however, for the same reasons as before.


Sorry, but at the moment the answer is no. We tried this at the beginning, and unfortunately it NEVER made anyone happy on either side of the transaction. Basically:

  1. Hybrid nut seed is expensive. There is no resemblance to the cost of, say, wild black walnut seed. Multiply the real cost of production by around 500 or more, when you include 30 years of testing and the cost of controlling the pollination process (which we do). Random seed, from random, untested hybrids may look cheap, but when you get useless plants, it turns out to be very expensive, indeed.
  2. No matter how much we emphasize how attractive to wildlife the nuts are, folks don't understand, or they don't believe us. "Hey, I've been growing trees for years, buddy, I can do this," is what they think. The result is this standard phone call: "Um, I know you told me the mice would eat them, but I planted them yesterday afternoon. I was going to get the protection installed this morning, but a raccoon or something found them and, um, they're all gone...Have you got any more seed I could buy?"

    No, we don't. We're always in short supply of enough seed to provide our tubeling customers with the plants they want.

So our choice is: sell seed, make no one happy and have no plants growing anywhere as a result; or sell tubelings, make some folks happy, and have folks with live nut trees. Somewhere down the road, when seed production is up dramatically, we should be able to offer seed for sale, but not now.

Can I just plant nuts I've bought to eat?

We REALLY REALLY don't recommend it. Don't do it! You'll lose every penny you spend. The nuts we sell to eat are fine for eating, but at this point the development of these crops, we can't afford to eat nuts from the best plants—that all goes for seed. So, what is left for us to eat is specifically the nuts from inferior plants, or from plants that have not been tested up to our strict standards. They're fine to eat, but the probability of getting genetically inferior plants this way is really very high. Like 95%.

How fast will they grow?

The answer here depends on you. If they are given excellent care, which means effective weed control, water if needed in the first year (and second if in very dry climates), and fertilizer on time, both hazels and chestnuts can grow "fast". Their tops will make 1-3' for hazels and 2-4' for chestnuts in the first year, 3-5' for hazels and 5-7' for chestnuts in their 4th year. They will grow faster after the first few years of root establishment.

However...All our hybrids at Badgersett are selected for survival in neglect, because neglect is very often the reality they must face. Everyone puts tree plantings in with the best of intentions of taking good care of them, but the real world—in the form of broken legs, car accidents, weddings, divorces, bulls getting through the fence, etc—has a way of intruding. Then the plants don't get taken care of. Nobody coddles the trees in the woods, after all, so these little trees probably will be fine... Our trees will survive anyway, but their visible growth will be minimal for several years. What they will do if neglected, with no weed control and no fertilizer, is put every scrap of energy they can glean into the root system, not into the visible top. So it is possible to come back to a planting after 3 years of neglect and get the impression that the plants are not growing at all. Not so. Once the roots reach a critical stage, the plants will start to push the top growth fairly rapidly. This may happen at age 3-5 years, depending on just how tough their life has been.

I think Badgersett owes me some replacement plants. How do I get them?

Please check our guarantees page to see what is and is not covered. We take our guarantees very seriously indeed and want to be fair. If you think replacement plants are owed to you, the fastest avenue will be for you to email us and include the details. Give us your invoice number, if possible, tell us exactly why you think we owe you plants, how many you are requesting, and when you want to receive them. If you prefer, you can call us and leave a message at (888) 557-4211 x5, or write us a "snail mail" letter (the old fashioned kind) and include that information. As with all our communications, all of these methods are likely to have a delay of a week or so, since our secretary is only part-time. If you aren't satisfied with our response, let us know.

Can you ship to my location?

This depends on what you're ordering. Plants– US except for quarantined states; Canada is possible if you make customs arrangements, but it currently takes a lot of time and considerable work on your part. Details can be found at the Shipping and Delivery section of the appropriate Chestnut Plant Order or Hazel Plant Order page. Nuts– We ship to the US & Canada; not elseshwere due to disease concerns, since the nuts are alive when we ship. We don't ship chestnuts in in very cold weather (below 0° F) due to the likelihood of their freezing and consequently spoiling early.

What time can I plant?

Bareroot tubelings need to be planted in spring before their buds break; we ship April 15 - May 30. Standard tubelings can be planted from May until the following recommended late plant date. After these dates your first-year mortality will start to increase, and be much more sensitive to ideal care and planting conditions.

You may notice that this is substantially earlier than our previous latest planting date recommendations. In the recent few years, fall planting has been overall less successful than before, and some of our growers have had very serious mortality. Most of this appears to be a result of unusual weather extremes: early freezes, excessive winter moisture and freezing farther south have contributed to direct mortality. Extended growing seasons or early warmth has also been confusing the plants and adding to transplant and seasonal-clock-reset stress.
In the past it has been useful to plant later in the season, both for us and our growers, so we are working on making later planting more reliable again. But for the time being, it isn't, so we want to take steps to reduce dead plants and unhappy customers!

Can I order now for next year?

Most of the time the answer is yes. We take orders up to 12 months in advance. Orders not paid within a month after billing will be cancelled. Cancelled orders can be re-activated, but you lose your place on the shipping queue.

Will they grow here?

For hazels the answer is usually either "yes" or "most likely"; see Hazel Growing Habitat Traits. For chestnuts it is basically "yes", as long as the location is at least as warm and wet as Badgersett Farm. See "Where Will Chestnuts Grow?"

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