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Mediterranean climate - almond guild

Hugh Hawk


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Sorry about the quality of this photo, but it is the best I can do right now.  This is a pic of my almond tree bed.  It is an All-in-One cultivar, a small-growing tree that is the only self-pollinating almond we can get here in South Australia.  Under it I am growing a variety of other plants that are really thriving right now, so I thought I would do a post.

It's almost spring here, so the almond (planted 18 months ago) has just started blooming and putting on new growth.  The bed is about 2.5 metres in diameter, and in it I have broad beans, fennel, borage, shallots, lucerne (alfalfa), red clover, mizuna, garlic (normal and russian), and a few other things.  Also comfrey and horseradish, but they haven't really come back from the winter yet.  I planted some alpine strawberries in here the other day as well, trying to build up the ground layer a bit more.  I have avoided root crops, except for the horseradish which is an infrequent harvest, as I do not want to disturb the feeder roots of the almond too much.  The whole group is working great together and I am really happy with the variety of plants and their rapid growth, even over winter.  This is one of the best examples of guilds in my garden at the moment and it is good to be able to see how theory translates into practice.

Most of these plants have come from scattered seed during the autumn.  The broad bean seeds were pushed just under the surface.  I have needed to do a little weeding, mainly Soursob (Oxalis), but it has been far less weedy than other areas, I assume due to the dense vegetation here.  I also trim the borage to allow other plants to grow, as it tends to get enormous.  The trimmings go to my chickens for composting, and presumably generate organic matter from the plant casting off root mass.

Although I have not really planned this guild, but done it in a piecemeal fashion, I think it has achieved a relatively good mix of layers and functions.  The broad beans provide a yield and also add nitrogen into the soil, as do the clover and lucerne (I trim this periodically over summer in its growth phase).  The borage provides cover and rapid growth, adding organic matter, as well as silicon and potassium[1].  Mizuna is providing human and chicken food.  Shallots repel pests and are a perennial food source, if left to spread or replanted.  The fennel accumulates Na, N and P[1], is a perennial food source, and attracts a ton of insects when it flowers.  Many of these are great fodder for my bees too, particularly the borage and broad beans.  Of course, they love the almond flowers too.

I thought it might be useful to share this since we are 6 months ahead (or behind?) many people on these forums.  I always find it inspiring to look at what is going on in northern hemisphere gardens as it reminds me of what I could be planting now to be growing in six months time.

Does anyone else have any examples of fruit tree guilds that are working particularly well?  Any suggestions as to how this guild could be improved?  How about what I could plant now for summer growth to fill the space that will be left by the broad beans?

Refs
1. http://oregonbd.org/Class/accum.htm


[Thumbnail for 2011-08-11 08.32.13.jpg]



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Joined: Aug 26, 2011
Posts: 71
Thanks for this, I appreciate real life examples of functioning guilds.

When will the broad bean harvest be over?
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
almonds being in the peach family probably could use any peach guild plants...it sounds like a very well done guild to me.


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Aljaz Plankl


Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 311
    
    5
Broad beans doesn't overwinter here, but they are sown really fast, way before the spring comes, in february, march. Common beans in may when the frost says goodbye.

With what to fill the space after broad beans? Buchwheat and there are many others.

My fav guild. Thornless blackberry, peach tree, mint, wild strawberries, plantain, dandelion, and other wild meadow plants, many of them from Apiaceae family. Alfalfa is there, clovers, ... Original tbb plant set fruit this year and rooted on both shoots. One is close to peach tree, sown directly to this spot. For now it had a mulch for it's close neighbour, from now on the strawberries. Mint is taking over quack grass and letting strawberries to run. I left quack grass to grow big and then grab it and outrooted it. Here and there i pull out the mint and use the roots and leaves. Heracleum sphondylium is delicious, horseradish is also very usefull, harvested or just growing there. A little back the jostaberry just rooted from a cutting. I missed quite a few benefits and plants, but i'm sure you are familiar with them. Also there are many other plants (bushes, veggies, etc.) just few steps around.
Hugh Hawk


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Pebble: Broad beans tend to bear during spring here, so by the start of summer they will be finished.  There are a few pods there now (start of spring) which are ready to harvest.  They are already looking a bit floppy after the 10 days or so we have had without any rain.  I'm still building the soil up in this bed as it is quite sandy.

Brenda: Thanks for the suggestion.  Can you suggest any resources for peach tree guild plants, or any you know of from personal experience?  I also have 2 peach trees I am espaliering roughly against a fence, which I am trying to underplant as well, but not with quite as much success so far.  Can you or anyone else suggest good general resources for plant guilds?

Plankl: Thanks for your contribution, great to see the pic.  Do you find mint gets hard to control?  That is an interesting idea using it to control weeds though, I might try that.  I am almost ready to use poison on my bindweed as it is only spreading further despite my efforts over the past few years. 

I have not read much about Heracleum sphondylium, except for hearing a few mentions of cow parsnip.  Which parts do you eat?  The warning on PFAF tends to put me off!  Sounds like you would want to be sure you had the right plant to begin with.

I have planted some cowpea seeds into this guild so they should continue the nitrogen fixation that the broad beans have been doing.  A few little inch long almond husks have formed already so hopefully it will be a good harvest!
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame


Joined: May 23, 2010
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
    
    3
Will soon be caretaking a dessert/mediterranean garden in S. California with a peach tree in it, so thanks for this. 

One question, site here suggests that it is possible to graft almond to peach or others: http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/article/41/

Anyone done that or seen that? 
Jack Shawburn


Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Posts: 230
How are the plants doing around the Fennel?
Hugh Hawk


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Nothing is growing noticeably better or worse near the fennel.  Why do you ask?
Jack Shawburn


Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Posts: 230
Most "Companion Planting" lists say to avoid planting almost everything next to fennel ,
except Dill... just goes to show that info online is not always accurate.
Guilds are soo,, important for permies , thanks for sharing.
We'll try similar with our peach trees.
Aljaz Plankl


Joined: Feb 18, 2010
Posts: 311
    
    5
Hugh H. wrote:Do you find mint gets hard to control?  That is an interesting idea using it to control weeds though, I might try that. 

I am almost ready to use poison on my bindweed as it is only spreading further despite my efforts over the past few years. 

I have not read much about Heracleum sphondylium, except for hearing a few mentions of cow parsnip.  Which parts do you eat?  The warning on PFAF tends to put me off!  Sounds like you would want to be sure you had the right plant to begin with.

I am trying to underplant as well, but not with quite as much success so far.  Can you or anyone else suggest good general resources for plant guilds?


I don't see mint as a problem, It's spreading fast, but i can easily pull it out where i don't want it. I think it's a good idea to only plant the mint on one spot and have it there. It's a wonderful groundcover under fruit trees, in my place under the peach, blackberry, along with strawberries which quickly take place after i pull out mint. I have an acre of land and i'm not going to plant it elsewhere for now. Other young fruit trees are getting mulch which comes from a meadow habitat all around so i don't need to worry about guilds a lot. Under many of the trees and aside with bushes i'm planting wild and common strawberries, bush beans, peas, cabagge, cauliflower, buckwheat, basil, many ornamental plants, and mostly i'm after wild plants that are not yet on the place but grow wild.

Where does the bindweed spreads to and what kind of damage does it do?

I use Heracleum sphondylium's young shoots. Find someone to show it to you. You will never switch it with another plant.

For underplanting, go and see, probably you wont need to go far away, the plants you need grow wild. I have Glechoma hederacea, very nice taste, herb and perfect groundcover for example. Just another wild meadow plant. And the list is just endless. I know mediterranean meadows or better said grasslands are not so lush and green as here, but you will find something out there in wild, be it groundcover or smth else. With any fruit tree i would try these - sage, mint, lavanda, strawberries, comfrey, alfalfa, clovers, dandelion, plantain, .... and many others including annuals. Don't go and seek for list of guilds, just make your own - the plants are out there. Btw, your almond guild looks great, just do it a little bit different with peach, just have fun.
Hugh Hawk


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
Jen: That is interesting, the thing I have heard is not to plant fennel and dill close as they cross-pollinate and cause the seed to taste funny.  Not sure if this is true but it gets repeated a lot.  I haven't had any problems with fennel, though now I think of it I do have a big patch next to my jujube tree, and that is growing extremely slowly.

Plankl: The bindweed spreads everywhere (eventually), and it twines and smothers everything up to 50cm high.  Good idea about checking out meadows.  I am trying to incorporate some Australian natives into my guilds but without a great deal of success just yet.

 
 
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