Nuts are an Easy Win in Edible Landscaping

If you have space for one tree in your landscape and are thinking about including edibles, nut trees are an easy win. It’s edible landscaping for the laid-back – the food output is there if you want it, but it’s no big deal if you don’t have the inclination or energy to harvest a year’s crop as you don’t have the splat factor of, say, a pear.

Are you in love with oak trees? Their nice shade, shape, leaves? Consider choosing a Bur Oak (zone 2) or a Schuette’s Oak (zone 4) – they produce acorns that need a minimum of processing if any to be edible. If you’re going to have an oak dropping acorns on your lawn anyway, choose one whose acorns are useful – if you don’t choose to use them the critters will, and you’ve put in no more extra effort than with the nonedible species. Oikos Tree Crops has done a lot of work breeding fast-maturing sweet oaks, as they refer to them, and have a very drool-worthy catalog.

Peace Garden Acorns

Want to go the evergreen route? Considering a pine, especially a white pine? How about a Korean Stone Pine (zone 2), instead? You’ll have pine cones on your lawn either way, but with a pinenut pine you’ve got that optional extra food output there as a bonus. Korean Stone Pines are actually the ones most commonly used for commercial pine nut production, so you’d be growing the Real Thing.

If you want shrubs or a hedge instead, how about a hazelnut? I’ve just ordered two disease-resistant, thin-shelled Precocious Hazelnuts from Oikos, and am getting very impatient for their arrival. They’re still “early” in the breeding work, so size of this variety can vary from 6-12′ (shorter of course in my cold climate), but as they tolerate a bit of shade they’ll fit nicely in my backyard bare spot left by a dying pine. You definitely won’t have to worry about this crop leaving a mess in your garden if you don’t get to the harvest in time – you’ll most likely be fighting the squirrels for them. (That is one good point in the backyard/frontyard argument – it is much easier to be mean and net the plants around harvest time in the back yard…)

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