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Apple/Pear tree companion planting affirmation/debunk/suggestions

Don Splitter

Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
I just got my order of 5 apple, and 4 pear trees in, and they're temporarily planted in 7gal root pouches until the fall. I plan on planting chives and clovers at the base of apple trees as well. The clovers will be mostly for nutrients, and for the Ferrel bees I hope to gather in a Warre hive.

I'll be putting the trees into northerly aspect hugels, but I'm looking for affirmation of what I'll be planting with them.

These are the companion groupings I've came up with so far. Keep in mind all of the hugels will be started with Clover's.

Plant Guilds:

Guild 1: Corn, Squash, Sunflowers, Beans(pole/bush), Jerusalem Artichokes, Amaranth (I personally would like to use this grouping planted by the apple/pears trees as this will be the dominant plantings in my hugels.)

Guild 2: Onions, Brocolli, Potatoes, Beets

Guild 3: Tomatoes, Carrots, Basil, Sunflowers.

Funny how the Sunflowers are a nitrogen fixer like a legume, but work well with tomatoes vs. legumes which work against tomatoes.

Zone 3(a/b) Ely, Minnesota
No matter what it is I pursue.. I prefer to pursue using my energy
Shawn Harper

Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 234
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
I thought sunflowers emitted a substance from their roots inhibiting plant growth

She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches changes.
Don Splitter

Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
Shawn.... ooops... I was typing so fast, I mis-typed... Sunflowers are NOT a nitrogen fixer, but they are great for pollination, green manure, breaking up the soil, shading squash, and bush beans, and attracting pollinators.

And then there's this....

Author: BioBilly

"Sunflower; helianthus an annual plant [that at the time of this publication was considered by farmers as a weed]. The roots dive deeply to pull up minerals and fiberize the soil. Stalks breakdown quickly and add organics to the soil. A heavily planted field of sunflower will produce almost double the amount of green manure as compared to any other plant. Sunflowers make a wonderful mother plant for corn, whose deep diving root will grow in with the shallow corn roots to help stabilize the corn.
[This makes sense when one considers the physics of the two plants. Pound for pound a pipe is stronger than a solid, because a pipe has to have two surfaces deflected before it will bend, compared to one surface on a solid. A sunflower has a pipe like stalk, corn has a solid stalk. In high winds corn will blow over first, but a companion sunflower will catch a corn stalk in its arm like leaf petiole and ride out the storm together"

And this: (which I really love)

Author: Dan D Lyons

"Next, I would consider planting a ring of giant sunflowers under that mulch around your tender apple tree to give it some much needed shade from the coming July/August sun. I know it says to plant the apple tree in full sun, but please trust me on this one, I have had lots of experience killing young trees by baking them in the sun Once your sunflowers are about 1ft tall, then plant a planting of pole beans/bush beans intermixed in the spaces around the sunflowers and apple tree. The pole beans will use the sunflowers (that are now about 2-3'' when the beans are sprouting) as a natural lattice and also quickly add nitrogen to the soil and give you an edible crop. The birds will give you some very rich 'guano' fertilizer when they show up to eat those mature sunflower seeds. You can even save a few of the sunflowers and beans to use as seeds for next year . This planting will look very nice a be a good conversation piece in suburbia. After harvest you have a ton of biomass (leaves and stalks) to mulch your apple tree with. Then in the fall you could go with a more perennial companion planting to accomplish the same thing that your sunflower/pole bean guild did but on a longer term basis, many of the things Tel Jetson mentioned in his post to you."

Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
some of the plants I have planted around my apple trees are (some are in sun some in shade): chives, walking onions, comfrey, french tarragon, thyme, oregano, rhubarb, yarrow, ....shady ones, violets, hostas, solomons seal, vinca, forget me not, burdock, helianthus, daffodills, etc.

pear guilds I have at this time (3 more coming this spring) : comfrey, daffodills, daylillies, checker mallow, bearded iris, woodbine vine...future pear areas will be similar but also include forsythia, spirea, and coreopsis as well as thornless blackberries.


Bloom where you are planted.
Don Splitter

Joined: Aug 31, 2011
Posts: 53
Location: Ely and Minneapolis, MN Zone 3
Brenda... good info.. I'm trying to narrow down buying more seed, and focus on some of the local native plants. I have yarrow, wild clovers, and a host of other native plants around the area that I'd like to use(There's a reason the Objiwe plant book has 500 pages). My favorite is the wild Yarrow... such a great plant with sooooo many uses.
Devon Olsen

Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 1046
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
this looks like a real promising thread to keep an eye on

Older Cheyenne, WY project . My Available products thread . Great Facebook alternative, get PAID to use social media . straight to my zazzle store . straight to my redbubble shop
Ashley Ross

Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 95
Brenda, do forsythia and spirea have any edible or medicinal uses, or are they for ornamental purpose only? I'm curious because I really like how forsythia looks And spirea we sell at the garden shop where I work.

Please check out my blog: http://onceuponeayarden.blogspot.com/
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subject: Apple/Pear tree companion planting affirmation/debunk/suggestions