They’re abundant in our woods already and quite productive, though it’s hard to beat the squirrels to them.
Often overlooked because the nuts have a slightly more bitter taste than English walnuts, black walnuts can be delicious if appropriately handled. It’s important to get them out of the green outer husk quickly because that husk contributes to the bitter flavor.
Blackberries aren’t as popular as blueberries or raspberries, but they’re an easy berry bush to add to your backyard. I grew up with fresh blackberries from my grandmother’s backyard. She would give me a bowl of blackberries with milk and a sprinkle of sugar – such a good snack.
Once planted, blackberries are easy to grow and do exceedingly well in these USDA zones; they’re native to the area. You don’t need to plant more than one bush because they’re self-fertile, but a few bushes will give you a large yield.
Hardy to zones 4-9.
Everyone has heard of blueberries, and they’re some of the easiest berry bushes to grow. Blueberries take time to grow; it can take up to 10 years for a blueberry bush to reach a mature size, but that means they have a long lifespan.
After planting, expect it to take 2-3 years before you receive any sizable harvest, but they’re worth the wait. While waiting, blueberry bushes are attractive, with leaves turning several shades in the fall.
After establishing, blueberry bushes need simple care, including watering, fertilization, and yearly pruning. Aside from that, you don’t need to worry too much; they handle themselves well.
Their hardiness depends on the variety selected. You can find varieties hardy from zone 3-9.
Buffalo Berries (Shepherdia argentea)
Sometimes called rabbit berries, Buffalo berries are a hardy shrub that reaches between six and 20 feet tall. They’re commonly found along streams throughout the Great Plains in North America.
Fruit appears on the shrubs between August and September in abundance. Buffalo berries are scarlet-red or golden-yellow and have a tart flavor that tastes great when used in relishes or jelly. Besides fruit production, adding buffalo berries to your property gives you a winter hardy and drought tolerant plant that can also fix your soil’s nitrogen issues.
Buffalo berries prefer to grow in zones 3-9, but with adequate protection, they might grow in zone 2 as well.
Butternut Trees (Juglans cinerea)
When I first heard of butternuts, I immediately thought of the butternut squashes I grow in my garden, but these are a type of tree that belongs to the walnut family. Butternut trees are native to the eastern United States and Canada, growing wild in some regions.
Sometimes referred to as white walnuts, butternut trees produce their harvest in late October, developing buttery-flavor nuts. These nuts are popular for baking, fresh eating, and confections due to their unique butter flavor.
Growing butternut trees require well-draining soil and full sunlight, but they adapt well to most conditions. They reach up to 60 feet wide, so space everything else around your trees appropriately.
Hardy in zones 3-7.
My two year old son holding a few wild foraged butternuts (husked, cured and dried)
Canadian Buffalo Berry (Shepherdia canadensis)
Cousin to the above-listed buffalo berries, Canadian buffalo berries grow in colder climates. These shrubs are typically found in Newfoundland, Alaska, Oregon, and parts of the Rocky Mountains.
These fruits are edible, but some say that the flavor isn’t as desirable as the original buffalo berries. The yellow flowers that cover the shrub eventually produce red berries.
This variety produces dry sites and handles the occasional drought, but they don’t like excessive heat. Production dramatically declines when the temperatures rise too high.
Canadian buffalo berries grow in zones 2-6.
Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus)
These are rarely a common plant you’ll find in your landscape, but Carolina Allspice is a fragrant plant with maroon to brown flowers. The foliage is also fragrant when crushed. These bushes grow well in most soils and climates.
After the flowers, Carolina Allspice shrubs grow fruit that looks like a brown seed pod.
You can let these dry out or use the oven at a low temperature if you don’t want to wait. Once dried, smash and dry them and use them just like cinnamon.
Hardy from zone 4-10.
Carpathian English Walnut (Juglans regia var. carpathian)
Carpathian walnuts belong to the English walnut family, but these trees handle cold temperatures and weather better. They grow further north than other cultivars and produce a steadier harvest in areas with variable winter.
When growing Carpathian walnut trees, give them plenty of space to grow. They grow up to 60 feet tall and 60 feet wide. Expect fast growth; the trees can grow more than two feet per year, especially in ideal conditions, growing best in full sunlight with at least six hours of sunlight.
The nuts are thin-shelled and easy to open, maturing 1-4 weeks before the hull opens. Expect yields of nuts starting in the middle of fall. The nuts are oval and measure up to two inches in diameter. It takes between 4-8 years for the tree to produce any nuts.
Carpathian English walnuts grow in zones 4-7.
Cherry Trees (Prunus avium)
Homegrown cherry trees give you delicious fruit without too much work. Cherries are broken down into two categories: sweet cherries and sour cherries.
Sweet cherries are what you see in the supermarket for fresh eating. It takes between 4-7 years to bear fruit.
Sour cherries are used for cooking, in particular, pies and preserves. Some people call these tart cherries because their flavor isn’t as sweet. These trees take 3-5 years to bear fruit, depending on the variety.
Sweet cherries are hardy in zones 5-7, and sour cherries are hardy in zones 4-6.
Cherry Plums (Prunus cerasifera)
Cherry plums are a particular group of Asian plum trees, and some are a hybrid between plums and cherries. Prunus cerasifera is a native tree typically grown as a small, ornamental tree that produces fruit if there is another pollinator nearby…(continues)