When we moved to our farmsite 25 years ago there was a great tree in what is now what I call the orchard. Every fall it got these round 'fruit' that was a rubbery coating around a shiny dark 'nut'. In trying to research the tree I am thinking that it is a buckeye. Buckeyes are not edible as they contain a toxin and it doesn't really matter if they are edible or not because the squirrels get every single one of them. There is not a nut on the ground or left on the tree each fall. The one in the orchard has a place of prominence and there was a second tree near it which was cut down because of storm damage so I think that it was intentionally planted there. There are two other ones that are part of the grove, one on the south side and one on the east side. I am wondering if those are ones that were planted by the squirrels? They are fun shaped trees with interesting branches and they are early to flower in the spring and early to turn yellow in the fall. But no edible nuts.
When I was looking at the seed catalogs that Mom shared with me I noted that there were lots of nut trees but very few were safe to grow in our zone four. In fact the only ones were a sweet chestnut tree and an American hazelnut. We have two of each on the list and the challenge will be to figure out where to plant them. The chestnut will eventually grow into a tall shade tree and the hazelnut is suggested to plant where it will be protected from north and west winter winds. It will be important to have a vision for the future and other trees that may eventually be planted in determining the best location for these new trees.
Other fun stuff that are on the list:
Last year we grew ornamental gourds and we are growing them again this year but adding a small ornamental pumpkin and Indian corn. Last year we planted a pie pumpkin variety for eating and they were really good so we are doing those again but adding a carving pumpkin as well. I am also going to try growing two varieties of popcorn.