Pine nuts are the seeds of pine trees. They grow between the shells of pine cones and are encased in a shell of varying thickness, depending on the species. There are over 100 varieties of pine trees, but the most common species with edible pine nuts are the pinyon and the stone pine. Both types are extremely hardy plants tolerating both hot and cold temperatures and a wide range of climates. Amazingly, they have no known pests. Before planting pine nuts, research the type of pine tree in order to ensure proper care.
Test your seeds. Place the seeds in a clear container of water. Use your hand to swirl the seeds around and let them settle naturally. The seeds that sink to the bottom are the most viable while those that float can be discarded.
Fill a small container (about 3 inches deep) up to the brim with potting soil.
Place the pine nut seed, with the pointed end facing down, about 1/2 inch below the surface of the soil.
Place container in a sunny greenhouse with a temperature of 17 to 19 degrees Celsius in order to germinate.
Water the soil thoroughly. Do not let seeds sit in standing water but do keep the soil moist with a regular spray of water.
Transplant seedling into a 1-gallon pot after the seed head falls off. Place outdoors in a sunny location and keep well watered.
Plant directly into ground once your pine tree outgrows its pot, usually one to two years of age. In a spacious, sunny location with well-drained soil, dig a hole the same depth as the container and twice as wide. Spread the roots as you place the tree in the center of the hole and cover the roots with at least 2 inches of soil.
Water young pine on a regular basis. Though pines are drought-resistant, you can jump-start the tree growth with regular watering during the first year. After the first year, pine trees can survive on periodic rainfall alone.
Harvest ripe cones by hand. Collect recently fallen cones or use a ladder to reach the pine cones hanging from branches. Look for open cones to easily extract pine nuts or dry the closed cones in the sun, until they open naturally. Shake the cones vigorously until pine nuts fall out.