We are offering a limited number of nursery plants for sale this year. We are focusing on edible species that are easy to grow. For each plant, I can also give you realistic expectations about hardiness and appropriate soil conditions, and good instructions for transplanting and subsequent care. Note that the zones of hardiness listed here are general guidelines—I suggest getting your plants from a more local source if you are in zone 7 or warmer
American wild plum (Prunus americana) zones 3-7. Ships spring. Sourced from zone 3-4 and good to -50˚F or colder. This tree grows from zones 3-7 in the wild and tolerates almost any soil type, from coarse sand and gravel to heavy clay, as long as it is moderately drained. American plum grows well in poor soils (low-nitrogen and low organic matter). It is a variable producer, but on average yields heavy crops of plums ripening in late August and September. The skin is generally rather thick and astringent, but the pulp of fully ripe plums is delicious. We use our wild plums for jam, fruit leather, wine, and canning whole plums after scalding and peeling. Our plants are grown from root suckers of wild plums that are growing in my orchard, which have been selected from good local wild stock for fruit production. These will ship in spring. There will be a healthy section of root and live buds at ground level, some with a whip-like sprout at the top. (Those without a sprout will soon grow one.) $10 each.
American elder (Sambucus canadensis) zones 3-8. Ships spring. We are selling plants from root cuttings of the variety York. This is a large-fruited, early-ripening selection from New York, with better than average flavor. For best yield, you’ll want to put in another variety for cross pollination, or plant them near wild elderberries. Our plants will ship with live buds but little or no above-ground stem, as the plants will transplant better that way and usually grow more vigorously than those planted with a top. They grow well in our zone 3 climate, but often with moderate winter kill. This is not a problem with elderberries, as best fruit management requires pruning out of older stems. Elderberries need high-nitrogen soils with lots or organic matter and moderate moisture levels to thrive; they tolerate wet but not waterlogged conditions, and do not like clay soils. $10 each.
Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) zones 3-7. Ships spring. Our plants are root cuttings from selected local wild stock that have been planted in our orchard. They are shipped without any above-ground growth because repeated field tests have shown that they grow much more vigorously when transplanted without a top. Nannyberries are hardy to -50˚F or colder. They like moderate to high soil moisture and moderate to high fertility, but are not as picky in this regard as elderberries, and do very well on heavy clay soils, especially if mulched to increase organic matter. In our area nannyberries ripen in mid to late September, a sweet, pulpy (not juicy) black fruit in clusters. $8 each
American highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) zones 2-7. Ships Fall. This is the real, native, North American highbush cranberry—absolutely guaranteed! Most sources sell the European relative (Viburnum opulus) mislabeled as the American, or mixed lots of the two—and this includes most large institutional nurseries, like state departments of natural resources. There is no oversight of the mislabeling of these species. Many named cultivars such as Wentworth are not the American species, either. We have selected, propagated, and named three highbush cranberries, the best that I have found in 25 years of collecting and eating these, and testing them out by growing in my orchard. The plants we sell are from branch-tip layerings of these trees; they are rooted in June and cut in late September after the roots have developed. Therefore, these plants only ship in the fall.
Highbush cranberry is a very heavy and consistent producer of bright red cranberry-like fruit that ripens here from late August to mid September. Harvest as soon as the fruit is soft—there is no benefit in waiting for frost, although frost does not harm the fruit. The bush will grow lanky and vigorously, up to 20 feet tall, in moderate shade, but will only yield well in full sun, where it will be much shorter and compact. We use the fruit for juice, jelly, or just eating off the bush, or frozen. Mixed with apple puree they make a great fruit leather. Highbush cranberry thrives under the same conditions as nannyberry, except that it will tolerate even fully waterlogged soils. It does not need wet feet, but it is less drought-tolerant than nannyberry. Highbush cranberry likes high fertility and most soil types, including heavy clay. It is hardy to zone 2, surviving temperatures of -60˚F. See our varieties below:
Mondeaux is selected from along the Mondeaux River in Taylor County, WI. It is highly productive, has large clusters of large fruit that fruit that ripens about 10 days ahead of the wild average, with good flavor. This is the best highbush cranberry I have yet found, and it became locally famous where it occurred. When the original tree had to be removed for construction in 2015 I was granted permission to transplant it (with the help of a backhoe—it was 24 feet tall), so the source tree is now in my front yard. This variety will be commercially available from other nurseries in the future, but we are the original source, and currently the only. $25 per plant. (Limited supply)
Sharon is selected from Price County in Wisconsin, but its seed source is not known, as it was purchased as an unnamed seedling by a kind local woman named Sharon who let me take cuttings from the bush in her yard some years ago. This variety has a unique form, the outer branches arching outward until the tips touch the ground and root after four or five years, even in full sun (this habit is normal in the wild, but predominantly occurs in shade). The fruit is average in size, better than average in flavor, and in full sun forms very large clusters and is very productive. $25 per plant.
Flag River is selected from the Flag River bottoms in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. The fruit is the largest of my three varieties, with the best flavor, but the bush is not quite as productive as the other two, and the clusters are not as large. Not currently available.
Sochan, Cut-leaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) Ships spring. Zones 2-8. This plant is incredibly easy to propagate, as it spreads by rhizome. One plant, if mulched well with high-nitrogen material like fresh hay, will produce a small, healthy clump in its first summer. It wants to spread by both rhizome and seed. Sochan does well in full sun or partial shade; it will survive moderate shade. It likes rich soil of a medium texture—not too coarse or too much clay. Towering 6-8 feet tall with gorgeous yellow flowers in mid to late summer, this plant is often grown for its beauty alone, but the young greens and shoots are also a good vegetable, and the seeds attract many songbirds. Sold as a rhizome section with one or more buds. $3 per plant.
Ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris) Ships Spring. Zones 3-6. Sold as a mature crown with attached roots, from our own vigorous patch grown in full sun. This fern does well in full sun to moderate shade. It likes moderate soil moisture and high fertility and organic matter. It prefers slightly sandy soils and does not like clay. $7 per plant.
American calamus (Calamus americanus) Ships Spring. Zones 2-6. Again, we are selling the American calamus that has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years—not the Eurasian species that has been banned as a food ingredient. This wetland plant could be put in around a pond or stream, or in any low, moist ground, even without standing water. It is tolerant of slightly acidic water and low fertility conditions, but needs nearly full sun to thrive. Sold as rhizome pieces 5-9 inches long with one or more live buds. $7 per plant
Wild leek / ramp (Allium tricoccum) Ships early summer. Zones 3-7. Our wild leeks are sustainably sourced from carefully managed populations on our property and are Allium tricoccum. (No populations of Allium burdickii are known in the vicinity (both are found in our general area, though). Wild leeks will grow in deep shade of a mature hardwood forest but will also thrive in full sun, especially if an area is mowed once after the leaves have died and then once again after the seeds have ripened. They only thrive in rich soil with good levels of organic matter, medium texture (not too pure clay or sand), and medium moisture. The best leek growth seems to occur on glacial or alluvial soils, or slope bases in rocky areas. They are highly associated with sugar maple, or mixed hardwood stands with maple, ash, elm, basswood, buckeye, and hickory—the kind of sites with healthy populations of spring ephemerals or wood nettles. Wild leeks take 7-8 years to reach harvestable size from seed, and until this time will not produce seed or daughter bulbs, so transplanting mature bulbs puts your leek growing ahead by almost a decade. In my long-term study planting 85 individual bulbs into a leek-free but suitable growing site, the average bulb had produced 14 offspring after a decade, with an average of about 5 at harvestable size. Leek bulbs can be transplanted with a high success rate from spring through midsummer (I have not tried fall), but early summer, just after the leaves die back, seems to be the best, so that’s when we will ship them. I have a 94% survival rate the first season with quick planting and no after-care. For founder plants that survive the first season, there is less than ½% subsequent colony mortality per year. But this is in carefully selected habitat.) $2 per bulb or $100 per hundred. Bulbs will have at least 8 attached radiating roots.