It’s important to a preparedness lifestyle to have diversity all across the homestead. Never rely on just one ‘thing’. You’ve different breeds of poultry as each has it’s own best quality. You plant different beans because they have different purposes. You should look at the trees on your homestead with the same thought process.
They aren’t just trees.
Trees give us oxygen and prevent erosion. They help fix nitrogen into the soil. Trees create leaves for mulch, shade for livestock and help keep your house cool in summer. Trees provide a wind-break, bear fruit and nuts and bring in the wildlife.
Trees as a food source
Most homesteaders would agree that an orchard is of great benefit. Plant fruit trees suitable to your planting zone. Fruit trees provide needed calories and sweetness that can be utilized in many different ways.
Plant nut trees too. Nuts are a valuable source of protein and calories. There’s a reason that squirrels stash them away. You can too! It’s true that it will take a few years for the nut trees to bear but they will and most will produce a bounty once established and mature.
Trees as a heat source
They say that a wood fire warms you three ways. Once when you cut it, once when you split it and again when you burn it. Every homesteader with a bit of land should consider adding a woodlot. That is trees that you’re growing specifically for the purpose of warming your home.
Trees in a Wildlife Habitat
Do you want to attract deer to your homestead? Here in zone 7 you’d want to plant osage orange, persimmon, shumard oak and sand plums. These four plants will provide a consistent source of food attractive to the deer population.
Do you want to attract songbirds? Try planting hackberry, red mulberry, chokecherry and sumac. These will provide food, nesting and cover. To attract wildlife in general you’d want to consider adding bur oak, and dogwood among others.
Pine trees planted north of your house, and preferably in rows depending upon the species (some pine species grow fat/wide and some are tall/thin) will help cut the cold north wind from your property.
The Oklahoma Forestry Service offers certain trees to Oklahoma homeowners in bareroot and containers at extremely reasonable pricing. They’re ‘dirt’ cheap but must be purchased in quantities. In years past I’ve personally planted a few hundred pine trees, both Scotch and Loblolly, redbud trees, ash, sycamore and more. The homestead is thick with different oaks and spotted with hickory, cottonwood and maple.
Diversity in tree species is paramount. You wouldn’t want acres of elms only to have them fall prey to Dutch Elm disease. You wouldn’t want acres of pines that were attractive to pine beetles. The more diverse your homestead (trees included) the better off you’ll be.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.