How to Grow: Nut Bushes

Learn how to grow various nut bushes and trees.

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Nature, Filbert, Hazelnut, Hazelnuts, Masuria, NutSometimes it’s good to get a little nuts about gardening. Nut trees and bushes are great landscape plants providing shade, screening, food and shelter for wildlife and delicious nuts for us, too! Yes, many nut trees are slow growing, but they’re landscape legacies. Maybe you or your children won’t enjoy the 70 foot tall walnut tree, but you’re leaving behind a tree for future generations to appreciate.

So what nuts can we grow in Vermont? Surprisingly a lot. Black walnut are hardy in our climate and researchers are working on disease resistant butternuts to bring these trees back. Just watch where you plant them because their roots exude a chemical that’s toxic to some garden plants. I’m growing some disease resistant American chestnuts and you can even grow your own pine nuts with Korean pine trees. These trees may take 5 to 10 years or more to get a good crop, but if you have some unused open, sunny, well-drained land, consider planting some nuts.

A great choice for smaller yards with poorer soil is the hazelbert. This cross between a filbert and hazelnut grows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide, suckers and produces an abundance of nuts sometimes within 3 years after planting. It makes a great nut hedge and if you don’t get all the nuts, you know the squirrels will be forever thanking you.

Plant at least two of each type of nut for best pollination. Nut trees grow best in well-drained, river bottom-like soil. You can grow them in less than ideal soil, if it’s well-drained. Dig a good sized hole and amend it with compost. Keep the trees well watered and fertilized and mulched each spring.

From The Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.