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Planting a nut tree in your garden may not be your first choice, but are you overlooking something? Sue Stickland visits a nut grower in Devon and is impressed by the attractiveness of nut trees and how easy they are to grow
Martin Crawford among his acres of nut trees

Roasted chestnuts from the street market, chestnut stuffing with the turkey, mixed bags of unshelled nuts – they are all Christmas favourites. Yet, unlike the parsnips and Brussels sprouts, or the apples in the fruit bowl, we rarely think of growing nuts ourselves, and few are produced commercially in the UK.

Agroforestry expert and author Martin Crawford sees many reasons to change all that. He believes nut trees have great potential for both gardens and commercial orchards in this country, and for the last 20 years he has run eight acres of trials to prove it. I visited his Devon site last October when the harvest was well under way: sweet chestnut trees were laden with prickly cases, walnuts were freshly splitting from their green coats, and (new to me!) heartnuts were hanging in curious long strings.


Traditionally most nuts grow on large trees, but Martin is looking at different varieties, different types of nut and different ways of growing them, so they can be more easily accommodated into gardens and farming systems. He says that there are nuts to fit any size of site and location.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

In this month's issue of Kitchen garden... - Win Garden Essentials Tools,Seeds & Sundries worth over £1947 - Going nuts home-grown & Healthy - Free cherry tomatoes + 10 Packets of seeds - Season's eatings + The tastiest sprouts about! + A feast of festive flavours - Christmas gift ideas - Results from our Massive Marrow & Passionate plotter competition - Feed winter birds top tips! - Fruit trees for small spaces