Though not everyone’s first choice for a fresh-picked grape, this wild (and ridiculously hardy) grape has several tasty uses beyond its tasty grape jelly. AKA Fox grape, northern fox grape, plum grape, northern muscadine, swamp grape, frost grape, and wild vine. VINE LAYER Cold hardiness zones: Cold hardiness zone 3-9 (can withstand cold to -40° F, or -40° C) Soil […]
Garlic, Allium Sativum
It likes sun, it’s perennial, and it looks like grass. We should just rip out our lawns and grow garlic instead. The neighbors might not even notice! But hold your breath—unless of course you’ve got garlic breath… ROOT LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 9 (can withstand temperatures to -30° F, or -34° C)i Soil PH: 4.5 to 8.3 Watering […]
Spanish Sage, Salvia Lavandulifolia
Hardier, lower maintenance, longer lived, and colder tolerant than common garden sage, yet it can be used in the same recipes in the same way. HERB LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 8 (can withstand cold to -30° F, -37° C) Soil PH: 6.0 to 6.5 preferred,i but will also grow in higher alkaline soils. (≈ 6.0 – 8.5)ii Watering […]
Scarlet Runner Bean, Phaseolus coccineus
The best perennial green bean I can find. And they can also make perennial hard dry beans, too. And did I mention they are perennial? I will give a heads up, however—without the ground protection, many gardeners never see this bean again. VINE LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 11 (though you’ll want to provide heavy mulch for zones 4 […]
Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum Trilobum
No it’s not a true cranberry… but it can be used for anything a cranberry can be used for, with good results! And they’re hardy, and MUCH easier to grow for most people than true cranberries. SHRUB LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 2 – 7 (can withstand cold down to -50 F, -45 C) Soil PH: 4.5 to 7.0i though some […]
Black Walnut, Juglans Nigra
You’d be nuts not to get one. This tree walnut disappoint you. CANOPY LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 9 (can withstand cold to -30° F) Soil PH: 6.8-7.2, but it will survive in a wider range of soils Watering needs: Average, though they prefer more in summer Blooming Season: Mid-spring Harvest season: September-October Fruiting age: As early as 4 […]
Northern Spicebush, Lindera benzoin
Step aside, allspice! Spicebush is coming to town. Cakes, candies, cookies… and it’s not just the berries that give the flavor. This cold hardy, moderate climate seasoning is going to rock your food forest and spice your world.
Nanking Cherry, Prunus tomentosa
The darling princess of the food forest! And the MUST HAVE for cold climate cherry lovers. This half sweet, half tart little cherry is also known by the names Manchu Cherry, Downy Cherry, Mountain Cherry, Mongolian Cherry, Chinese Bush Cherry, and Hedge Cherry.
Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana
One of the few leafy greens (not to mention the massive root, obviously) in the cabbage family that is truly perennial. Spicy, healthy, and one of the easiest herbs to grow!
Smooth Sumac, Rhus Glabra
It looks like something from the rainforest, but provides a popular tart Mediterranean spice. And let’s not forget to mention that when they’re green, they’re totally gorgeous!
Washington Hawthorn, Crataegus phaenopyrum
They’re cute, they’re tasty, and they can grow almost anywhere! Why wouldn’t you want this food forest pioneer? Just don’t get poked…
Hinnomaki Red Gooseberry, Ribes uva-crispa
The grape of the high desert mountains! If you struggle to grow other berries, you’ve got to at least try this one… they’re hardy, tasty, and lushly abundant producers.
Blue Giant Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum
So beautiful! So versatile! So tasty… and yes, it has that wonderful anise “licorice” flavor that we all love—or should, if we don’t.
American Hazelnut, Corylus americana
Good for more than Nutella (which, by the way, you can make at home with roasted hazelnuts!), hazelnuts are one of the best nuts for the food forest.
Yamberry (AKA Chinese Yam), Dioscorea polystachya
Like yams, but too cold to grow them? Love yams but hate to have to kill your plant to harvest them? You’ve come to the right place, my friend! Possibly the best crop to qualify as a wild potato—or wild tater!