After the arctic raspberry, this might be the next cold-hardiest of the blackberry/raspberry group. And, I mean… the fruit looks like a thimble. How cool is that? HERB LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 3 – 7 (can withstand cold to -40° F, -40° C) Soil PH: 6.0-7.0 Watering needs: Medium-low. Don’t overwater. But do keep them evenly moist long enough to […]
Swiss Stone Pine, Pinus Cembra
Being (quite possibly) the cold hardiest of trees, and a nut pine, and one of the few truly cold hardy nut pines that maintains a Christmas tree shape throughout much of its life, you might say that this is the most likely candidate species for the food forest owned by Santa Claus. UNDERSTORY LAYER* Cold hardiness zones: 1 – 9 […]
Saskatoon Serviceberry, Amelanchier alnifolia
Queen of the food forest, this tasty “blueberries-in-a-tree!” favorite is easy to grow, is not too picky about its soil (unlike some plants I know… coughBLUEBERRYahem…), and will give you enough fruit to make pies, muffins, syrups, tarts, and a thousand other delights. SHRUB LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 2 – 7 (can withstand cold to -50° F) Soil PH: 6.0-8.0 […]
American Plum, Prunus Americana
Also known as wild plum, this prolific dainty can produce from 100 – 150 pounds of fruit per year! And it just might be the most cold hardy, PH tolerant of all the food-worthy plum tree species. And yes, they’re even eligible for making prunes… or Christmas plum pudding… or any other plum recipe, for that matter. UNDERSTORY LAYER Cold […]
Manchurian Apricot, Prunus Mandshurica
Probably the cold-hardiest of all tasty edible apricots. UNDERSTORY LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 3 – 7 (can withstand cold to -40° F, -40 C) Soil PH: 6.0 to 7.5 Watering needs: Medium. Drought tolerant once established. Blooming Season: Early spring.i Just be aware that Manchurian apricots only blossom every two or three years. This is healthy and natural, and doesn’t […]
Korean Pine, Pinus koraiensis
I’m totally nuts for this tree. One of the few particularly cold hardy nut pines (AKA stone pines), and it grows to 100 feet and lives 1000 years! Plus it has some serious staple potential… CANOPY LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 3 – 7 (can withstand cold to -40° F), and sometimes listed as going down to zone 2. Soil PH: […]
Golden Currant, Ribes Aureum
Though actually named after their lovely little golden-yellow flowers, golden currants do grow a tasty fruit that can be yellow, purple, or even red. The point is to enjoy them no matter their color! SHRUB LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 8i (can withstand cold down to -30° F, or -34° C) Soil PH: 6.0 – 8.0. Tolerates a variety […]
Apple, Malus Domestica
Yes, it is indeed the quintessential, typical domestic apple—with hundreds if not thousands of varieties. But there is nothing typical about its story, nor its history. Plus, because it’s been utilized by people for so long, and been bred so many different ways, there are SO MANY options. You can get the apple varieties that are just right for your […]
Nannyberry, Viburnum lentago
So bring us some figgy pudding, so bring us some… wait! Make that nannyberry pudding! UNDERSTORY LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 2 – 8 (can withstand cold to -50° F, or -45 C) Soil PH: 5.0 to 8.0 (alkaline tolerant, but can be sensitive to salt) Watering needs: Average, prefers moist ground. Can withstand sopping wet ground,i but can also tolerate […]
Cornelian Cherry, Cornus Mas
True, it’s not actually a cherry, but this tasty little fruit has its own delicious appeal. UNDERSTORY LAYER Cold hardiness zones: 4 – 8 (Can withstand cold down to -30° F, or -34° C)i Soil PH: 5.0 – 8.0ii Watering needs: Average, does okay in damp soil, but doesn’t like sopping wet soil. Fairly drought tolerant (for short periods) once […]
Riverbank Grape, Vitis Riparia
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!
Hosui Asian Pear, Pyrus pyrifolia
For those unfamiliar with Asian pears, picture a fruit with the shape of an apple, the color and texture of a pear, but the flavor of an extra-juicy spiced pear. Plus they sell for top dollar at the grocery store and farmer’s market.
Walking Onion, Allium cepa proliferum
A true perennial among onions, and let’s face it, they just look cool!
Blue Elderberry, Sambucus caerulea
Also known as Mexican elderberry or tapiro, this is possibly the tastiest of the elderberries.