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Gardening and more: Edible landscapes: Think of trees when you want to grow food

TRY TO USE THE CLAW — The pawpaw is a fruit that tastes like banana custard. Pawpaw trees grow wild in Ohio and they are easy to grow here. Photo used courtesy of One Green World.
Why have trees that are merely ornamental, when you can choose trees that provide fruit and nuts, as well?

This concept is called edible landscapes, according to Fred Safford, who is in charge of trees and shrubs at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, located at 4484 Clark St. in Hamburg. This is a way to work with, rather than harm, the environment.

It is also called “permaculture,” because trees are a permanent part of your landscape. Unlike vegetable plants, such as tomatoes or zucchini that you have to plant every year, once a tree is planted, it will continue to produce food.

Here are some trees you can use, as you create an edible landscape.


You’re probably familiar with the children’s song that goes “Picking up pawpaws; put ‘em in a basket.” I sang that many times, but I never knew what the song’s subject actually was. It is the fruit of a pawpaw tree.

This fruit looks like a green, oblong ball. It is soft and pulpy and tastes like banana custard or banana crème. It has big, black seeds that are not edible.

The trees grow wild in Ohio and are easy to grow in our area. They produce an enormous amount of fruit.

The tree grows between 30 and 50 feet tall. Plant it 30 feet away from your house.

“You don’t want those pawpaws hitting your house,” Safford said.


I did not know that we can grow almonds around here, but Safford assured me that we can.

Lockwood’s will carry “Prima” and “Nikita’s pride,” which he said are very hardy. They are modified peach trees that are grown on peach rootstock. You need to have two different kinds of almond trees for good pollination.

These varieties are semi-dwarf and will grow 10 – 12 feet tall. You should plant them about 15 feet away from your house.

Hardy pecans

The hardy pecan, specifically Carya illinoinensis, is typically a southern tree, but it will grow here. It is a member of the hickory family.

It will grow 30 – 40 feet tall; to make sure you do not have falling nuts hitting your house, plant it 30 feet away from any buildings.


Lockwood’s will be selling the “colossal” chestnut tree, which is a cross between Japanese and European chestnut trees. It will withstand the blight that killed so many American chestnuts. This tree yields an abundant crop.

The tree grows to 30 – 40 feet tall and spreads, so plant it 20 or 30 feet from your house.

When you think of plants that provide food, think of trees!

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email

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2014-02-27 | 13:17:26
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