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Planting Guilds for PAwpaw, Cherry, and Asian Pear

Austin Verde


Joined: Apr 13, 2012
Posts: 13
Hi there, I'm looking for good ideas and help creating tree guilds/companion plantings for the trees listed above. If anyone has advice or experience it would be much appreciated. Below I'll try to give you an idea of what I'm already doing. Basically gradually trying to convert the sod around my fruit trees into an expanding circle of forest floor-like growth and cover.

PAWPAWS:
Everyone in my area that I know of (NE Missouri), has had difficult times getting these to survive their first few years because of their requirement for shade and a specific environment. We planted some last year in a forested bank of a stream and they survived with no attention.

This year I designed a guild specifically for them. The pawpaw saplings are planted right underneath large Autumn Olive bushes on the shaded side and close around them I've planted gooseberries and elderberries. Once they are old enough the autumn olive will get cut down, giving them mostly full sun for fruit production, and the large elderberry and gooseberry thickets around them will provide trunk shade and prevent grass.


ASIAN PEARS:
So far the only pear-specific guild plants I know of are Currants.

SOUR CHERRIES:
Don't Know a thing.

ALL TREES:
will have comfrey planted around them as well as various flowering bulbs for grass suppression.

Also I'm seeding a mix of buckwheat, yarrow, clover, parsley, chervil, alyssum, baby's breath, fennel, calendula, alfalfa, carrot, dill, radish, coriander, and daikon. This is just a seed mix that I will direct sow on one side of the trees to suppress sod and attract beneficial insects.

So....

Anyone out there with some specific plants/shrubs/ etc. that they know of going well with any of these trees?
Thanks!
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
all my paw paws died, the roots rotted, figured maybe they didn't get enough shade. I planted seeds this year in my woods, so far we'll see.

as for pears, I have a lot of pears here, mostly I have comfrey under them, but also daylillies and iris and perennial flowers to bring in pollinators and I generally toss in some annual vegetables under them as well.

my cherries are in two seperate ares of my garden, i have sweet, sour, bush, wild, ornamental, etc. The sour cherries are growing in asparagus beds and also have onions under them as well as comfrey, annual cosmos, jerusalem artichokes by one, rhubarb, bearded iris, etc.

my sweet cherries are growing on a slope on the north side of my house, they have a lot of things planted nearby such as eleaganous, spirea, barberry, strawberry, aegopodium, cream and sugar grass, siberian iris, daylillies, and other things.

my bush cherries are growing in several places in the mixed garden beds, near jerusalem artichokes, comfrey and annual vegetables. I just put a Carmine Jewel on my island in my pond near my waterfall, that has stones with perennials, roses, etc planted among them..and I have another one that I'll also plant on the island for the protection of the pond.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Varina Lakewood


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
    
    1
Brenda,
do the sour cherries do well with that guild? I have a baby sour cherry that I'm looking to guild, and there isn't much easy-to-find info on that. I also have a baby bush cherry, but I probably need to move it before guilding it.

This is the extent of what I've found:
Cherries should do well with the same sorts of guilds as apple, plum, and peach trees.
Sour cherries produce better and are not bothered by birds when guilded with horseradish. (Horseradish like wet soil and cherries do not, so the spot probably was wet and the horseradish absorbed the excess.)
Sour cherries are more tolerant of wet soils and poor soils than sweet cherries.
Sour cherries are quite disease resistant.
Sour cherries like more nitrogen and moisture than sweet cherries.
Cherries are sensitive to frost during bloomtime, sunburn when fruiting, like cool weather, and don't like wet feet.
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 348
    
    2


hi Austin,

your guild for pawpaws is perfect. I have been raising them for years and advising people how to plant them
they are an understory tree and like to grow in forest soil, ie, decaying leaves and wood with lots of fungi
the shade part is only necessary when they are small and their roots undeveloped.
after the first year, if they are growing in the proper soil, full sun is ok, especially in the northern part of their range.

planting them under a nurse tree like autumn olive a good way to start them as the olive will provide shade, humus, nitrogen and encourage fungi to colonize the soil
the gooseberries and elderberries are good companions both having relatively shallow root systems compared to the pawpaw.
keeping a mulch layer up around the trees will help the fungi and provide enough food so the trees aren't fighting each other
i just pile up leaves around them in the fall

add in some spring flowers as these will have blossomed and gone to seed before the pawpaw even leafs out


Brenda,

don't give up on your seeds, they may not sprout til august or september
Jeff Cope


Joined: May 24, 2012
Posts: 9
It's not really a well-researched or planned guild but I have a couple of paw paws under California coastal oaks, with elderberries, spice bush, ramps (Allium tricoccum), columbine, valerian, meadowsweet, scorzonera, and chives under them and Oregon grape nearby. Also adding to the shade are some Phyllostachys bamboo nearby to the south. I'd like to add a bayberry or 2 (Myrica pensylvanica), and NJ tea, (Ceonothus americanus) for nitrogen fixing. The area used to be heavily planted in Vinca major, and suppressing that is a concern. Any suggestions?
Milan Broz


Joined: Feb 24, 2011
Posts: 85
Location: Croatia
I've red that sour cherry is doing best near black currant. I planted this combination recently but so far I have no personal experiance, neither I understand why this combination should be successful.


Permaculture in Croatia:
www.perforum.info
Isaac Hill
volunteer

Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 343
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
    
    2
My pawpaws are under a canopy of mature black locusts (who don't have much of a canopy) and under the pawpaws I've planted wild mint, mayapples, wild ginger and will add aralia racemosa and ramps soon. There are also currants and barberries close to them. Both mayapples and wild ginger have fetid flowers that attract the same sort of pollinators that pawpaws use, and they bloom around the same time, so that it part of my pollinating strategy.


"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
Kota Dubois


Joined: Oct 13, 2011
Posts: 171
    
    3
Thanks for your pollination strategy Issac, I have all those plants on the property to transplant. I'm just building a pawpaw guild in a hugel bed and to date I've just a dwarf quince with them.


We cannot change the waves of expansion and contraction, as their scale is beyond human control, but we can learn to surf. Nicole Foss @ The Automatic Earth
Varina Lakewood


Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
    
    1
Milan Broz wrote:I've red that sour cherry is doing best near black currant. I planted this combination recently but so far I have no personal experiance, neither I understand why this combination should be successful.


Thanks for that tidbit. Let me know how it turns out. Right now I am waiting for my sour cherry to get big enough to plant other things with it, so in the meantime I'm searching for anything that would work with it!
Jeff Cope


Joined: May 24, 2012
Posts: 9
Isaac,

That pollination strategy sounds great; I wonder if you know what the pollinators are (Flies?) and/or some plants they pollinate at other times of year, so I can keep them happier longer. Not quite sure where to find that particular information on the plants I'm growing (or might want to) other than such extensive research I just run across it. Lots of sites give the same basic stuff; some give a little more in one direction or another but I haven't seen those bits listed anywhere.

I use Dave's Garden, USDA, PFAF, MO Botanical Garden, and a few others, in addition to whatever a specific search turns up. I live in California so very few of these plants are native or naturalized here and information on them is not easily found in libraries or book stores.
Isaac Hill
volunteer

Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 343
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
    
    2
It's just an idea I had, I don't know if it will work... in fact I was already going to plant wild ginger and mayapple and only after looking them up online (which I do with everything I plant) did I realize that they had fetid flowers and might be able to attract pollinators to the pawpaws. Flies and beetles pollinate fetid flowers, they're attracted to the smell... and you only need to attract them during the time that the pawpaw is flowering. Some people hang rotting meat/roadkill from the branches of the pawpaw tree for the same reason. I don't know what the natives are around you but I do know that there is a western wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) and a western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) which both have fetid flowers and are native to the west coast.

EDIT: And I just came across this pretty little plant: Fetid Adder's Tongue (Scoliopus bigelovii).
Jeff Cope


Joined: May 24, 2012
Posts: 9
Well, with a name like fetid adder's tongue how could anyone resist?

I asked about the pollination because even though we only want them around during paw paw bloom they need to eat something the rest of the year to be here for that season; since none of these plants are native and may not fit into the local ecosystem including such pollination relationships I may have to provide a year-round diet (I'm in zone 8b, with very mild though rainy winters) for the flies or beetles to make it. Just like I'm trying to do with my honeybees--extending the season as far as possible in both directions for them and me.

I did just order a big batch of wild ginger (A. canadense) for the wasabi guild, which is not far away from the paw paws. I can plant some of those right by the paw paws. Strangely, while looking for wild ginger and fantasizing about wild ginger brew I saw may apples in the online catalogs and wanted some, but for no good reason other than Boy Scout camping memories and reading Light in the Forest when I was 10. Looked for excuses (aka uses) but in the end couldn't justify buying any. Oops.

Big love-ee-aye indeed.
Isaac Hill
volunteer

Joined: Feb 28, 2011
Posts: 343
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
    
    2
Jeff Cope wrote:
I asked about the pollination because even though we only want them around during paw paw bloom they need to eat something the rest of the year to be here for that season; since none of these plants are native and may not fit into the local ecosystem including such pollination relationships I may have to provide a year-round diet (I'm in zone 8b, with very mild though rainy winters) for the flies or beetles to make it. Just like I'm trying to do with my honeybees--extending the season as far as possible in both directions for them and me.


I think that with fetid flowers it's a little different because the plants are basically tricking the beetles and flies into pollinating them. The insects don't eat their nectar, they think it's rotting meat that they can lay eggs in. Also, if you have house flies in your area, which I'm guessing you do, you'll be fine. The problem is getting those beetles and flies to the pawpaws at the right time.

Yeah I've had intuitions that I didn't act on like that before... I try to get what I can if I can these days.
Eva Taylor


Joined: Mar 13, 2013
Posts: 59
Location: eastern panhandle of W.V.
    
    2
Paw paws, can they grow under walnuts? The only autum olive is growing under my walnuts. Also any ideas for chestnut trees?


Eva
Jeff Cope


Joined: May 24, 2012
Posts: 9
Eva,

Though there's no problem with allelopathy, Chestnuts, unlike Walnuts, create very dense shade. You'd need some shade-loving plants to have a chance of growing anything. Mushrooms, Mayapple, Dutchman's breeches, small ephemerals, forest flowers that bloom in spring before the trees leaf out--Sanguinaria, Jack in the pulpit, etc. Some are medicinals; some edible. You could try ramps; I'm not sure whether they would work or not under chestnuts.
Eva Taylor


Joined: Mar 13, 2013
Posts: 59
Location: eastern panhandle of W.V.
    
    2
Thank you Jeff will try those under the chestnuts...
Cortland Satsuma


Joined: Mar 17, 2013
Posts: 303
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
    
    5
Also I'm seeding a mix of buckwheat, yarrow, clover, parsley, chervil, alyssum, baby's breath, fennel, calendula, alfalfa, carrot, dill, radish, coriander, and daikon. This is just a seed mix that I will direct sow on one side of the trees to suppress sod and attract beneficial insects.


Check a companion planting guide...
carrots do not like dill nor fennel
fennel do not like coriander
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
Greetings to all you pawpaw discussers. I am on a new project, a search for viable pawpaw seeds. I read that they are moisture sensitive, and that if they dry out, it kills them. This is a puzzle for me. I don't live in pawpaw country, never ate a pawpaw. The seeds are for someone who will be in the USA in August of 2014. She will travel with them to northern India, where she will plant them. I don't know when pawpaws ripen, so I don't know when the seeds are available. I know they need cold stratification, a few months in the frig in a plastic bag with moist sphagnum, but how long can they stay in moist cold conditions before they lose viability?

I am open to all suggestions and education. The person who wants the seeds is getting seeds from cold tolerant (grown in Kashmir) pomegranates for me, so that I can develop a cultivar for all of us serious winter people who want pomegranates in our garden. I've said I'll see what I can do.

Ideas anyone?

Thanks

Thekla
Rebecca Norman


Joined: Aug 28, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 11,000 feet
    
  12
Thanks for making such inquiries on my behalf, Thekla! I hope to find someone who can bring over the pawpaw seeds in winter or spring. I hope a few days without refrigeration won't be too bad just before planting.

But back to the original post:

Austin Verde wrote:PAWPAWS:
This year I designed a guild specifically for them. The pawpaw saplings are planted right underneath large Autumn Olive bushes on the shaded side and close around them I've planted gooseberries and elderberries. Once they are old enough the autumn olive will get cut down, giving them mostly full sun for fruit production, and the large elderberry and gooseberry thickets around them will provide trunk shade and prevent grass.


It won't be so easy to just "cut" that autumn olive down! Autumn olive just loves to be pollarded, and will sprout back vigorously when you cut it off. It will sprout from the stump and send out many root suckers in the area. It will take only a few months to resume giving as much shade as it did before.


Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod.
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
Hi Rebecca, you are welcome!

Great to know the seeds may be able to catch a ride. I found a place that sells and ships fresh pawpaws. They also sell seeds and germinated seeds. It will not be too difficult to communicate with them about what the seeds need, and what percent may be lost due to a few days out of the frig.

I also found out that pawpaw season is now, and so I'll be checking with people I know who live in pawpaw country, southern Michigan, and Ohio are places I have contacts. Seems like if they got the ripe fruit, and double triple plastic bagged it, the seeds would not mind the lack of refrigeration, because it would be no different than having fallen to the ground. I've read that the fruit is too fragile to ship. Anyway, I'm on the trail.

What part of the US are your potential visitors from? There will be the challenge of getting the seeds from me to them before their departure, but luckily, you mentioned winter and spring as their potential travel dates, which are not so difficult as summer.

I'll keep you posted if/when I find out more.

Thekla
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
Hi Rebecca,

I finally talked to the pawpaw people in Ohio, but not for very long. They did not return my phone call, nor my email, so today I called again. Their pawpaw festival starts in 4 hours, they're wildly busy, said they'd talk to me next week.

I can get seeds shipped to me or whole fruit, but more than that I don't know yet.

I wonder how many seeds to you want/need? And if I get them and have them shipped, do the people who are planning to visit you have room - time - expertise to store the seeds until they make the long trek to your place?

My reason for asking is just to decrease the stressors the seeds are subjected to. When the Ohio pawpaw man finally talks to me, I hope to get some idea how dire are the germination consequences when they go unrefrigerated for the period of time it takes to ship. Now that the weather is cooling down, I think it would be likely the package would not over heat, and since the pawpaw seeds overwinter in frozen ground, I think they could stand a freeze. All of this I will ask the pawpaw man.

In case you are interested, this is the link:


http://www.integrationacres.com/products/

best wishes

Thekla
Rebecca Norman


Joined: Aug 28, 2012
Posts: 242
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 11,000 feet
    
  12
Okay, I went to Kashmir for the past week and we've got some seeds for you. We bought some cosmetically perfect dark red pomegranates that were not from Kashmir, but because of your request I also bought the unattractive local ones too. The skin was mostly yellow with patches of blush and patches of scab, and the "jewels" were very pale, with bigger coarser seeds. But guess what, they were much sweeter and tastier than the gorgeous crimson ones. So I've got a small packet of seeds drying for you. I hope you've looked them up and that it's right to just dry them.
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
Hi Rebecca,

That's very exciting. Thank you thank you thank you. It is OK to dry the pomegranate seeds. I'll send you my mailing address using the permies PM function. Not private message, but purple moosage.

The paw paw people in Ohio had their festival, but still have not called me. I'll try again with them and also start up a conversation with horizon herbs about getting paw paw seeds from them, and what they know about storing and germinating them.

Thekla
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
Rebecca,

Your pawpaw seeds are in my refrigerator, awaiting further instructions. They will be moist at all times! They need cold stratification for 100 - 120 days, so they are set til about mid January.

If anyone else has any experience with pawpaw seeds, I can use some help here. Today, the seeds arrived from Ohio. They were in a sealed plastic bag. I got them out, rinsed them off, and put them in a ziplock bag rolled in separate layers of moist paper. I did not seal the bag, because I thought they need air even when dormant or stratifying or what ever they are doing. I can keep an eye on the bottom of the bag, and if moisture pools, pour it out, and at the top of the bag, near the opening, if the paper begins to dry, I can add water. But I am open to suggestions. I am just going by what comes up on a google search.

Many thanks

Thekla
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 348
    
    2


hi Thekla

I've found that a sealed bag is ok for storing seeds
the seeds need to be rinsed really well to prevent mold from growing
a rinse in a mild bleach* solution is sometimes helpful for mold prevention
I use moist peat moss* instead of paper towels as it holds moisture better and has a anti- mold effect
if you can see condensation in the bag, there is enough moisture
plant in spring in deep pots as it put down a long taproot first
allow 5-6 months to see sprout

* i hope mentioning these doesn't get this post banned
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
Thanks Duane.

I will go ahead with the anti fungal treatment. (10 % solution) It is not my favorite stuff, but appropriately diluted it has plenty of applications. A gallon lasts me more than 6 years. But now that I think of it, maybe I'll try half the seeds in H2O2 to deter fungi and mold. Maybe I'll try some research on that first.

How does peat differ from perlite, something recommended on another site, which I can acquire if I don't have any leftover from my rocket mass heater.

How long have you left them in a sealed bag? I received them in a sealed bag, and when I opened it, it did seem to smell faintly moldy. I could not imagine sealed bag would be OK over a long term.... I think respiration is necessary for even dormant seeds, just very slow respiration. That's just my personal belief, based on having studied biology in the 70s, RN for 27 years.

Thanks again

Thekla
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 348
    
    2


hi Thekla,

one of the dangers of the internet is "paralysis by analysis" or information overload

the important things are 1. "do not let the seeds dry out or freeze", 2. "do not let the seeds dry out or freeze", 3. "do not let the seeds dry out or freeze"

I use peat moss because that what I started using and stayed with it
I have been collecting seeds and saving them in my fridge for over 10 years
I've had good results without using bleach and had some not so good results, so I use bleach
I have kept seeds several years in the fridge, although I try not to do this
but they have sprouted. after the first year, I would re package in fresh peat moss after rinsing them in bleach
(I don't know what your fridge is like but mine seems to be a mold incubator)
I give these seeds away at local festivals and not like to hear feedback about my seeds turning moldy in someone's fridge

any material that holds moisture like perlite is ok, if that is what you have

pawpaws are loaded with sugar and this is what attracts the mold, so the initial rinsing with water is important if you want to try and avoid bleach
Thekla McDaniels


Joined: Aug 23, 2011
Posts: 220
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
    
    4
hardly anything ever molds here. It's arid, but I will do the bleach thing anyway. Interesting to know the seeds are full of sugar.

Thanks
Thekla
Ian Pettit


Joined: Sep 18, 2013
Posts: 2
Location: NE Indiana
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but I came across a plant guild guide put together by Midwest Permaculture, which includes a pawpaw as part of an oak tree guild. http://midwestpermaculture.com/eBook/Plant%20Guilds%20eBooklet%20-%20Midwest%20Permaculture.pdf They also have a fruit tree guild template which lays out good ideas for companion planting, many of which have already been mentioned here.

In fact, I noticed this thread because my intent is to use their template to include some pawpaw trees in with existing oak trees I have in my back yard, which is fairly well shaded (thus the pawpaw). For my site conditions, I will likely be doing a bit of soil conditioning before I plant too much to help ensure future successes, but when it comes time to plant I will definitely be revisiting the forums here to get additional input. I will probably also be following the advice I have found in both Edible Forest Gardens and Gaia's Garden and putting together some additional analogs for companion planting suitable to the existing trees on my property. Tedious as it has been, I sorted through something called "Plant Communities of the Midwest" (Indiana Subset) by the Association for Biodiversity Information and found a plant community similar to my own. I've even put together a Pinterest board! http://www.pinterest.com/pettitsounds/local-woodland-species-and-analogs/ Now all I have to do is find a few useful analogs and I should be all set for a nice guild. It might be a while, but I'll be sure to post my progress and I look forward to the helpful feedback that everyone here loves to provide!
Meghan Orbek


Joined: Apr 23, 2013
Posts: 26
Location: Yonkers, NY/ Berkshires, MA USA
Austin,
It's been a while since your original post. How'd it go with your experiments? What did you end up planting? Do you have any findings to share?
 
 
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