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Fruit Tree Guild Design & Plant List

Brandon Monterosso


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 30
So, I am finally ready to start implementing our urban food forest battle plan code named "back yard bambi!" And We have opted to start with creating guilds under our two fruit trees that exist, an apple and a pear. I have been starting to research different plant types, and have been youtubing, googling, permies'ing, and re-reading Gaia's Garden's sections on guilds etc, and I thought it might be useful for me to setup a table showing what plants I could plant and in what location. I don't know if there is "formal" terminology for the locations starting at the trunk and working out to the drip line etc, so please bare with me

I am hoping that your experience will allow you to provide me with some awesome ideas for plants for each type, section/zone in the guild, and ultimately help me to tailor a resource that I can use to start from when building new guilds and or a need to tune things for my environment and or evolution of the guild as time progresses 

Some basic information:
Planting Zone: 5/6 SE Michigan
Tree's to be guilded: apple & pear (not sure on types...)

So here is what I started to put together. I will refer to the sections in the guild as rings/zones moving away from the trunk


Totally perma-newb, this will be our first project, and I am totally excited! Thank you for any input and or pointers. Looking forward to getting my "grow-on" 
Dave Miller


Joined: Jun 08, 2009
Posts: 396
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
    
  10
Looks like you are off to a great start!  Here are some photos of my apple tree guild:

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=1475.msg40461#msg40461

Over the winter I have encouraged wild birds to do "chicken tractoring" in this guild and they have been doing a great job.  I really need to attract more snakes though, as it looks like the slugs might be really bad this year (we have had tons of rain).

Also I have some native bee nesting tube bundles nearby, I think they do a lot of my pollination.  I noticed some activity around the tubes on Saturday.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
you might consider adding lupines or beans or peas under the dripline..to give you some nitrogen fixing..the lupines would be perennial..the peas and beans would have to be replanted..

I have also heard people recommend nitrogen fixing shrubs..that would depend on the height of your fruit trees, if they are standard that might work well for you, however, if they are dwarf or semi dwarf there might not be enough room.

most nitrogen fixing shrubs do grow quite large, baptisia is another smallish one besides the lupine, but you could also consider a clover.

myself I have put a lot of dwarf or semi dwarf fruit trees in my food forest gardens, so I have used the shrubs more as a hedge or windbreak..not DIRECTLY under the fruit trees..

I have hedged 3 sides of my food garden area with shrubs of all kinds..the North I have American Wild Plums, Hazelnut and Mulberry, the West I have raspberry (several varieties) blackberry (2 kinds) buffalo berry, large fruited hawthorn and 2 sweet chestnut trees
and on the south i have blueberries, service berrries and juneberries..

this also gives food for insects and birds which will help to keep the diseases out of your garden.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Brandon Monterosso


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 30
Totally awesome, thanks for the information
Brandon Monterosso


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 30
Wow, I never knew Lupine was so beautiful in bloom. Awesome. Does it require chopping to cause root die off and nitrogen node release, or does it accumulate in the leaf providing mulch material?
                    


Joined: Apr 24, 2011
Posts: 8
Location: Asheville, NC USA
Note about nitrogen realease: In a PDC course I took last year, we discussed whether coppicing/chopping was necessary for nitrogen release. Our instructor "argued" that because roots die during the natural cycles of plants, that nitrogen is still being released.. just not at the extreme rate coppicing might. Therefor, it's not actually necessary to coppice for nitrogen. One can also deduce that pruning will achieve this same effect.

Brandon Monterosso


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 30
PapaShane wrote:
Note about nitrogen realease: In a PDC course I took last year, we discussed whether coppicing/chopping was necessary for nitrogen release. Our instructor "argued" that because roots die during the natural cycles of plants, that nitrogen is still being released.. just not at the extreme rate coppicing might. Therefor, it's not actually necessary to coppice for nitrogen. One can also deduce that pruning will achieve this same effect.


I totally get that. Nature doesn't chop and drop However, I think there might be value in certain situations, i.e. Geoff Lawton's "Greening the Desert." But, I am personally in love with the idea of allowing Nature to do her dance for me, and all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the show, eat it up, and watch
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  14
Perhaps both through trampling and eating and pooping, animals play the chop and drop function.

I am now shifting towards having my guilds in patches based on the management strategy.  I have chop and drop/carry areas, areas near trails where I am using mulch placement to cultivate target species, and areas where I cultivate nutrient/insectary plants where I don't want to chop, but do nibble both for flower harvest, and seasonal cutting.  I think this will help me with labor efficiency and access.

This comes as I am working sites that are 100s of square feet, where I am trying to learn how to design sites that are 10's of 1000's of square feet.  If you are neither creating bare spots with mulch where you introduce new species, using mulch placement to cultivate specific yielding species, nor choping with a larger tool like a scythe rather than a rice knife, then this may be moot.


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
jesse tack


Joined: Jan 28, 2011
Posts: 55
Location: SE Michigan, Zone 5
Looks great MI friend!

I would add to the mix, and any planting mix, a mycorrhizal companion to the list. Mycogrow is from Paul Staments company but there are others.

Are you planting any of you companions from seed?

word
Brandon Monterosso


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 30
Yeah, I totally agree. Great idea. I will be planting some from seed.
Jeff Hodgins


Joined: Mar 29, 2011
Posts: 140
I'd add maybe 2 or three types of vines to ring 1.
                                    


Joined: May 07, 2011
Posts: 46
i would say that nature does chop and drop as there are times in every climate when you have a die off.... in the tropics and many other areas it's the dry season but here we just call it winter.... i think it's good that you mentioned the animals contribution to chop and drop i think that's one of the best natural models for what it is that we are doing here.
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  14
Though natural dieback may involve plants translocating nutrients to roots for storage.  By contrast, growing season chop results in greater shock, yielding dieback of root hairs, and release of nutrients from the succulent tops, along with reduced water competition for those with dry growing seasons.
Paula Edwards


Joined: Oct 06, 2010
Posts: 411
I think it's the daffodils under the flower bulbs which are poisonous. For this reason I would always keep flower bulbs and members of the allium family you eat apart. Even if they look different, but you may mix them up.
                  


Joined: Jan 09, 2011
Posts: 10
Hi!  a note on the bee balm--they are known to get quite large and can spread out over four feet, so keep in mind the space you have as well as how you will get in there to harvest the trees.
Also, I've always heard that fennel may inhibit the growth of nearby plants. I found this online when I googled 'fennel alleopathy'

"A good example of an allelopathic species is production of inhibitory chemicals by fennel. The roots of fennel plants produce a suite of chemicals which can reduce the root elongation, root hair growth and germination of neighbouring plants, like lettuce. This is an example of allelopathic exudation. "

Just go easy with it, try one plant and see how it affects the others.

I would also suggest narrowing your list a little bit so it is easier to keep track of the guild and see how the plants are interacting.
Good Luck!
Lee Einer


Joined: May 08, 2011
Posts: 169
A couple of notes -

1). Lovage is a nice insectary and mulch plant. Grows like crazy. Multiple culinary uses and closely related to osha, a medicinal herb much esteemed in these parts.

2). One variety of bee balm, monarda menthifolia, is known in northern New Mexico as "oregano de la sierra." It is used in place of oregano in the local cuisine. Beautiful flowers. If you are looking for a bee balm with culinary uses this is a good pick.
 
 
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