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I have been thinking about planting a tree that produces some kind of nuts. I've seen for example almond and walnut trees for sale but have always assumed they would be just decorative in northern England. Another candidate could be sweet chestnut, but I’m open for other ideas.

What nuts can I expect crops (for personal use, not for sale) from in this location and how many years do I need to wait?
I don’t want to plant something that will likely grow, but not bear fruit in my locale.

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    Personal or commercial production? For the second one, there are more requirements, in order to make it economically viable. – Giacomo Catenazzi Feb 17 '18 at 8:15
  • Oh, personal for our garden. Ornamental trees are of course fine but if you plant a tree for its fruit and never see any, that's a waste! – Mr. Boy Feb 17 '18 at 12:18
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    Taking your various comments into account, I attempted an edit for clarification. Feel free to adjust anything I didn’t get right. If you totally disagree, you can of course also roll back to an earlier version. – Stephie Feb 18 '18 at 10:07
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The walnut (Juglans regia) is the better choice if you want fruit.

The tree itself is quite frost-resistant and robust. For fruiting, frost is an issue, though, as the flowers are sensitive. But it naturally blooms in mid-to-late spring and there are cultivars that bloom especially late to be one the safer side. Your nursery should be able to help you. Except first fruit when the tree is ten to twelve years old.

Before planting, remember that walnuts grow into large trees quickly and they can be tricky to prune: Cut at the wrong time and the tree will bleed profusely and for a long time. Ideally you plant it in a free space where it can grow largely untouched. Also note that a walnut emits chemicals into the soil that suppress other plants, so that the area under the tree will be rather inhospitable. In my experience, grass will grow, but don’t expect a flowerbed to thrive. A walnut tree is not the tree of choice for a small front garden, but given enough space, they grow into majestic trees, and faster than many others.

Almonds (Prunus dulcis) are true lovers of warmth and sun. They are typical plants that need Mediterranean climate or at least the conditions found in vineyards. As they leaf out rather early and blossom even before, they are rather sensitive to late frosts (cold winters aren’t that much of an issue), which will of course affect fruit formation.

Note that most almonds available in garden centres and nurseries are breed for their impressive flowers and may not bear fruit at all. Talk to your nursery, if you want to give a fruiting tree a try. You should get the first fruit as early as the third to fifth year, if you are lucky and get no frost.

And of course with only a third of the size of a walnut and the somewhat dainty growth, plus the profusion of flowers in spring, it’s much more suitable for the smaller decorative garden - but not for a larger-scale almond production in Northern England.

  • I'm not sure if it's because it's not suitable or because it's less popular, but I'm curious nobody mentioned sweet chestnuts? – Mr. Boy Feb 18 '18 at 0:37
  • @Mr.Boy you explicitly mentioned walnut and almonds, so that’s what I wrote about? If you are actually looking for “all viable options where I live”, maybe you should clarify in your question? – Stephie Feb 18 '18 at 6:13
  • I don't know how to make the question clearer than it is which is to ask what nuts I can expect crops from. Almond and walnut are just mentioned as examples I've seen sold – Mr. Boy Feb 18 '18 at 9:02
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That far north , I would think Hazel nuts are one of the few options. The trees bear when small and they require very little care.

  • Hazel / filbert, walnut / butternut (and black walnut if you can get those in the UK), and chestnuts should all be viable if I have the climate zone correct. Northern England is not Northern Scotland and is also heck of a lot warmer than the Northern USA, AFAICT. metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate/gcvbs84rv – Ecnerwal Feb 21 '18 at 4:23

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