This is information shared in our Members Area by one of our members in Shelton, Washington, Andrea Bichsel of Hammersley Inlet Farm & Nursery. Andrea put this list together for our members. She’s in zone 8, so you might have to find varieties that are more suited if you are in colder zone like 4, 5, or 6.
As requested in another thread, here is my top twenty list for edibles that I sold this year, in roughly the order of popularity. I also added propagation notes–others please jump in with your experiences! As with everything else, prune your cuttings often for good branching, especially the fast-growing ones, because they’ll get leggy quickly.
1. Blueberries (upsell–always tell customers they are self-fertile, but they’ll get more berries if they have a different variety that blooms at the same time; sometimes you can sell 2 early, 2 mid, and 2 late season). Had 700, sold out. Propagate by cuttings in early spring if you can. If you’re in Washington, you have to get your blueberries tested in June/July or September if you plan to overwinter them and sell them to Washington residents. Fastest-growing ones I carry seem to be Pink Lemonade and Legacy, although Bluecrop fills out fast. Allow 2 seasons before selling if you can.
2. Raspberries. Had 100, sold out. Division works best for me, also some success with root cuttings, layering is also good. Lots of asks for thornless varieties this year, will bring in some liners of those for next year.
3. Fig trees. Had 100, sold out. Propagated by SW cuttings. I can’t report on HW cuttings, because I didn’t have enough material because I sold out this year and last.
4. Paw paw trees. Had 50, sold out, bought in another 300, sold probably 25 of those, will start pushing them again now that they look good. They grow surprisingly well here, even though they’re native to SE US. I have seedlings grown from select seed to increase the chance of having good fruit. You need at least two to tango. I tell my customers all this to warn them that while they have a decent chance of getting good fruit with these, it’s not guaranteed like if they bought a named cultivar. Of course, named cultivars are $60-80 and are pretty much sold out everywhere around here. Grow from select seed (don’t bother with regular seed), or buy in whips grown from select seed. Graft from a named cultivar onto the select seed whips or sell as is. Don’t even bother with cuttings.
5. Goji berries. Had 50, sold out. Propagate by cuttings if you want a specific cultivar (both SW and HW worked about equally well for me with Phoenix Tears). They are very easy to grow from seed, but you get the generic variety. I’ve got about 1,000 growing on right now, with another 1,000 or so on their way.
6. Honeyberries (haskaps) (upsell–they need a compatible pollenizer variety, so always sell at least two). Had 500, have maybe 100 left. Very easy to propagate with SW or HW cuttings, fast-growing, overwinter well (at least in zone 8). Can have a saleable plant ready that year.
7. Hardy kiwi (upsell–they need a male and female, be sure to have both; even the self-fertile variety Issai does much better with a male). Had 100, sold out. I had better luck with SW than HW cuttings, but did ok with HW. Can do with single node, but I’d advise a little longer just to have a bigger plant earlier in the season.
8. Thornless blackberries. Had 50, sold out. This is actually quite funny here, where you have to fight off the invasive Himalayan variety each year just to see your yard. I just tell people I send my 8-year-old out to pick blackberries off of ours and he comes back unscarred, and they buy. Also let people know they can train the long vines into a circle so all the berries are within reach. Propagate by division, root cuttings, or layering.
9. Aronia berries (chokeberries). Had 100, have 5 left. Also very easy to propagate with SW or HW cuttings, also fast-growing, can have a saleable plant ready that year.
10. Elderberries (upsell–they need a different variety for pollenizing). Had 100, sold out. Propagate with SW or HW cuttings. I’m trying from seed this year, no results to report yet.
11. Hinnomaki red gooseberries. Had 100, sold out. Super easy to propagate from SW or HW, I use a thorn stripper and mutter under my breath a lot. Saleable plant within a year. Mine have berries the second year.
12. Stevens cranberries. Had 50, have 8 left. My SW and HW cuttings failed, so hopefully Neil will give his tips. I’m going to have to buy in liners of these for next year.
13. Red currant. Had 300, have 30 left. Also super easy to propagate from SW or HW. Saleable plant within a year. Unlike the gooseberries (which are related), no berries the second year so far.
14. Cascade berries, loganberries, marionberries. Had 200, have 30 left. These are pretty similar in heritage. Cascades are hands-down my favorite for making jams and pies, and I tell my customers that (also, while they were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, they’re fairly rare now, and I know of only one or two other nurseries that carry them–and they’re all sold out last time I looked). Loganberries and marionberries are preferred by commercial growers. Propagate by division, layering, or root cuttings.
15. Grapes, red and green seedless table grapes. Had 300, have 200 left. Now that the grapes are going to town, they’re starting to sell like hotcakes, too. I didn’t sell very many last year, though. Propagate from HW cuttings–read everything Neil has written about it, and be patient. My HWs took 2-3 months to root after spring started.
16. Persimmon. Had 50, have 40 left. Now that mine are just starting to bud out, people are starting to buy these, too. Grow by seed or buy in whips. You have to scarify the seed with sandpaper, then soak before sowing. Can scarify with acid, but no thanks.
17. Rosemary, mints, lavenders, chives, other perennial herbs, rhubarb. Sold 10-100 of each. Yep, I sell gallon pots of them at $5.97. There was what I’m calling The Great Rosemary Die-off here a couple of years ago, and I get a lot of people replacing their dead bushes. I sell Arp right now, because our Arp survived over all our other rosemary plants. I propagate perennial herbs with SW cuttings, and I just water them without putting them under mist. I haven’t tried them with HW cuttings, so can’t give you any data on that. I also propagate a lot from seed, most are pretty easy and the seed is cheap.
18. Huckleberries, both red and evergreen. Had 100, have 75 left. These grow wild all over the place here, but people want to have them in their garden. Propagate with SW cuttings late spring. Haven’t tried HW cuttings.
19. Wintergreen. Had 50, sold out. Great shade ground cover, similar (and related) to salal. Propagate with root cuttings and division. Like salal, root cuttings give me the best-looking results. I’ll report back on growing from seed some other year.
20. Cornelian cherry. Had 50, have 25 left. Not really a cherry, but a dogwood with edible berries (fun fact: cornus kousa berries are also edible). Haven’t tried propagating these yet, but might try both SW and HW this year.
21. Witch hazel. Had 50, have 25 left. Not exactly an edible, but when I tell customers about making a tea or sitz bath (without saying anything about why, because FDA), they’ll often buy one. I just buy in whips, but I might try some from seed some year.
22. Ginkgo biloba. Had 50, sold out. Need a male and female to produce nuts. People can make tea from the leaves. Mostly I sell it as an ornamental. I warn people that I don’t know which are male and which are female, and that the female trees can get stinky. Doesn’t deter most, though. Buy in whips or grow from seed. I sowed 500 seeds this year and the stupid squirrels got every. single. one. Will try again next year.
So that’s my list so far. Here are a few more notes:
- I could have sold probably hundreds of apple, cherry, plum, and pear trees if I’d had them. I will have them next year.
- Edibles have accounted for over half my sales this year so far.
- I had quite a few requests for ground cherries, or cape gooseberries. I’ve got 100-200 of those growing for next year, along with about that many Chinese lanterns. They’re related, and both edible–they’re also both related to tomatillos. I’ll warn people to keep either one in a container, because they are aggressive. Very easy to grow from seed, perennial in my zone.
- I’m trying out several more unusual edibles in future years, because those seem to be a very easy sell here. Some are common elsewhere, but not here. These include mulberry, serviceberry, medlar (after reading about it, sounds like fun if I can get seeds started), jujube, yuzu (a fairly cold-hardy citrus similar to lemon and lime), Chinese chestnut, walnut (not uncommon, I just don’t have any for sale yet), hazelnut, sea buckthorn, pomegranate, and quite a few others. Some I’m propagating by seed, some I’ll buy in as whips. I’m super excited about the yuzu seeds I got and hope I can grow those on and overwinter successfully.
- Some of the items I listed might not be hardy to your zone, so do your research before trying them.
- Haskaps, some hardy kiwis, some blueberries, possibly aronia, and probably some other berries require a certain amount of chilling hours to break dormancy properly and produce berries. Be sure to research those requirements for your zone, too. So far, the zone I’m in is great for a wide variety of berries. If you’re in zone 9 or 10, for example, you might want to get southern highbush or rabbit-eye blueberries. Where I am, I can do those or the northern highbush varieties.
Hammersley Inlet Farm & Nursery
Andrea Bichsel ● h 3131 SE Arcadia Rd, Shelton, WA 98584 ● Zone 8b ● Licensed & Inspected
WA Seed Labeling Permit #5288