Nut trees are very easy to grow and tend to be disease free.
Which Nut Trees Should I Choose?
For the average garden, the comparatively small, even shrubby, hazelnut varieties are far and away the most popular.
They can make a wonderful, wildlife friendly hedge or tall windbreak.
Given full sun, they crop heavily with few problems on almost any soil, including wet sites that waterlog in winter; on poor soils, a yearly mulching is important to keep the soil moist.
They are very shade-tolerant, but won't crop well in less than half a day of sun.
For serious nut production, don't bother with the wild common hazel, Corylus avellana; the nuts are perfectly edible, but they are pretty small and have less flavour compared to Filberts (Green or Purple), and Cosfords.
Red Majestic is more of an ornamental variety, it's not great for nut production, but it is very pretty!
Walnuts are big trees, not suitable for a small garden.
- The Common English Walnut, Juglans regia, (it's really Persian, like all the best fruit!) has the best flavour, and its shells are much easier to crack.
The tree is considerably slower growing, and its timber is relatively soft.
- The Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, has an earthier, more pungent flavour that makes it less popular for eating raw, and more useful for processing into flavourings. The husks are messy to remove (wear gloves!) and the shells are tough, but as a survival food it is more nutritious than its cousin.
The tree is much faster growing, and its hard timber is prized.
Sweet chestnuts, Castanea sativa, are also big trees, and of the three species, have the most delicious nuts, which are more like a protein rich grain in culinary terms.