Win a copy of The Prairie Homestead Cookbook this week in the Cooking Forum forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • James Freyr
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
  • Dave Burton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Steve Thorn
  • Eric Hanson

Berries next to Fruit Trees?

 
Posts: 21
Location: Oswego, Illinois
2
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Will everything do fine if I were to plant elderberries/rasp/black/blueberry bushes in between fruit trees? I was just thinking of using my fence line to alternate tree then bush then tree then bush and so on.

Thank You
 
gardener
Posts: 1059
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
335
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, they should do even better that way!

I like to plant blueberries on the southernish dripline of my fruit trees where they get some sun and a little shade. The blueberries will grow towards the sun as the tree grows and can help shade the base of the fruit tree and maximize the growing area at the same time.

I bet most of the berries you mentioned should be able to tolerate some shade and be fine next to the fruit trees. Hope you have a good fruit and berry harvest soon!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1280
Location: 4b
269
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All my fruit trees have berries planted near them, as well as lots of other plants.  Usually I use honeyberry, jostaberry, or autumn olive.
 
Constantinos Avgeris
Posts: 21
Location: Oswego, Illinois
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you for the reassurance. Is there any other herbs or ground cover recommendations to plants with the berries and trees? I was finally able to attach a picture of the main area I will be using.
IMG_20181114_162740.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20181114_162740.jpg]
IMG_20190117_161528.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190117_161528.jpg]
 
pollinator
Posts: 1049
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
218
hugelkultur forest garden hunting chicken food preservation bee
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I always grow things that produce oils- mint, oregano, monarda, stuff like that. Most also recommend onions, I use walking onions. Supposed to help the bug problem. Comfrey on the original dripline for me too.

 
Constantinos Avgeris
Posts: 21
Location: Oswego, Illinois
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank You all for the help.
 
gardener
Posts: 853
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
189
dog duck chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts pig bike bee solar ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Steve Thorn wrote:

I like to plant blueberries on the southernish dripline of my fruit trees where they get some sun and a little shade. The blueberries will grow towards the sun as the tree grows and can help shade the base of the fruit tree and maximize the growing area at the same time.



I am going to try this , great tip, thanks Steve!
 
Posts: 21
Location: 98612
2
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It seems having berry bushes at all under the trees, and especially at the drip line would make for difficult picking from the trees. Would folks with that setup comment on this? Thank you. I hope to fence my small orchard  this summer then I can finally get my blueberries in the ground. I like the idea of planting them where they will get a bit of dappled shade under the edge of the apple trees (or where they will finally grow to), but seems like I would not be able to place my ladder where I'd need to, then. Thank you
 
gardener
Posts: 840
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
54
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


everything needs space
everything wants sun
berry bushes are sun-loving
and in a wet climate
(where things grow without irrigation)
they will spread (cane fruits like raspberry, blackberry, etc)
so even though planted in between fruit trees, they will end up underneath fruit trees
and since they are sun-loving, they will send up canes into the limbs of small trees
this can be seen as what was once called a type I error
something that causing needless work,
unless the unwanted canes are chopped and dropped

blueberries are well behaved and don't spread much
but require a moist  acidic soil
and fruit trees do not do well in this environment
so trying to mix them is problematic

they are best kept separate in their own beds

IMOHO , of course
 
Posts: 26
Location: Northants, United Kingdom
6
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd say go for it, for all the reasons stated. Nb hedges with 'standards' (that is full grown trees) have a long history in this part of the world because they work.

My own fruit trees (three fruiting, one baby seedling) are planted in a small back garden in a mixed bed which means they're underplanted with everything you can imagine. It would be slightly easier to have a tree standing all on its lonesome, but I've had no difficulty picking fruit. I have chosen trees on dwarfing rootstock, pruned so I can reach the fruit without a ladder.
 
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Missouri Ozarks
20
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my experience, thornless blackberries do well around and underneath apples (Thorny ones should too but you probably don't want them there if you want to access the apple trees easily). The ones with partial shade from apple trees do even better in my experience than the ones in full sun. However, when I planted a mulberry among them, they died back from the areas that got too shady. Mulberries are more vigorous and have denser shade than apples, and the blackberries couldn't take it.
 
gardener
Posts: 2833
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
584
cattle chicken bee sheep
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Year to year you can influence the blackberries to a certain extent by selecting which canes to cut or keep. You can get them closer or further away from the tree as you see the need. This gives you a cushion to go for it.
 
Posts: 24
Location: Bitterroot Valley, MT
1
forest garden foraging homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

duane hennon wrote:

everything needs space
everything wants sun
berry bushes are sun-loving
and in a wet climate
(where things grow without irrigation)
they will spread (cane fruits like raspberry, blackberry, etc)
so even though planted in between fruit trees, they will end up underneath fruit trees
and since they are sun-loving, they will send up canes into the limbs of small trees
this can be seen as what was once called a type I error
something that causing needless work,
unless the unwanted canes are chopped and dropped

blueberries are well behaved and don't spread much
but require a moist  acidic soil
and fruit trees do not do well in this environment
so trying to mix them is problematic

they are best kept separate in their own beds

IMOHO , of course



I agree absolutely. You must consider the needs and growth habit of each and every variety. Low-growing wild blueberries would make a wonderful ground cover under fruit trees if you provide spruce or pine needles as a mulch and add plenty of peat moss into the hole when planting. And keep them at the perimeter of the drip line, not right below the tree, or near the trunk. I would stay away from using spreading cane fruits as they're always invasive unless they have a space in an area just for them and are regularly manicured. In a permaculture setting, I would at minimum cut out the dead older canes each season. Canes have no place in guilds, as do some others. I've seen guilds run amok with overgrown understory plants that end up choking out the tree they are supposed to be supporting. Plan well and do your homework prior to planting!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1059
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
335
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Barbara Kochan wrote:It seems having berry bushes at all under the trees, and especially at the drip line would make for difficult picking from the trees. Would folks with that setup comment on this?  I like the idea of planting them where they will get a bit of dappled shade under the edge of the apple trees (or where they will finally grow to), but seems like I would not be able to place my ladder where I'd need to, then. Thank you



My blueberry bushes that are planted around my fruit trees aren't full grown yet, but my current method is to plant them on the southeast and southwest corners around the drip line of the fruit tree.

When they're full grown, there should be some space between them if they're planted far enough apart, and mine usually grow towards the sun, so if they are shaded in the middle, they will hopefully grow outward and away from each other, leaving room for picking.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1059
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
335
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

duane hennon wrote:blueberries are well behaved and don't spread much
but require a moist  acidic soil
and fruit trees do not do well in this environment
so trying to mix them is problematic

they are best kept separate in their own beds

IMOHO , of course



I've been growing Rabbiteye blueberries around my fruit trees, and they have been thriving.

The thing blueberries have been most particular about from my personal experience, has been wanting a lot of moisture in the soil. They have been able to adapt well to lots of different planting areas and soils, but if they don't get enough moisture in the soil here, they struggle.
 
Posts: 51
Location: SW Ohio, 6b, heavy clay prone to hardpan
14
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Know your plants and plan for their individual requirements when mixing them.  As has been stated above, blueberries do well on the drip line of trees as they like moisture and light shading.  But trees grow, and the shade and drip line grows too.  I've done this more than once, and I know I'll get five years of good, then a slow decline.  You can move the berries while dormant, but you'll always have a poorer season (or two) as their roots re-establish.

Cane fruits require constant pruning when planted with other species, otherwise they take over.  They also prefer more sun, although light/partial shade can actually improve their production in very hot locations.

Berries in general behave similarly, wanting more shade, less heat, and less wind as the average soil moisture levels decline.  In constantly moist areas, berries can do well, in the wind, near a stone wall (heat retention) in full sun.  In drier areas, blocking the wind and providing some light shading while avoiding placement near large thermal masses, will work better.  Wind and heat robs the plant of moisture.  As with everything in life, it's a balancing act, and you need to pay attention to the balance.  

The most robust wild blueberry plants I've ever seen were growing in the pine barrens, in sand. Dappled shade from the pine trees (picture a matchstick pine forest with needles only on the top 20% of the tree trunks) with lots of moisture retention from a thick bed of pine needles which also provided acidity, and the winds blocked by the forest itself, apparently was perfect for this wild species.  These berry plants produced large, delicious berries in unbelievable quantities.  You would have expected the sandy soil to lack the moisture retention required for fruit production, but there was a perfect balance of other components of the ecosystem that made this area nirvana for blueberry plants.  The plants were spaced so evenly, (several feet apart) that it almost looked planned, obviously crowded plants didn't do well and died off, leaving a perfect spacing for walking around each bush for picking the fruit.  This seemed a fairly static environment, overall, but it was fluid and self-repairing, as large pine trees died, the opening allowed other trees and plants to take hold, replenishing the area for a while, and the best berry producing areas shifted around, over the years.  What this region had, that kept it idyllic, was a large volume which gave it the capacity required to stay productive overall, as some areas rejuvenated.  You'd find exceptional specimens of prolifically producing oaks, or a clearing filled with fruiting sumac, as you wandered the region, and often an old giant hardwood stump long dead and now surrounded by mature pines and berries.

Truthfully, this was not an efficient production area in terms of bushels per acre per season, but it was self-sustaining over hundreds of years (the area was know for generations to produce great wild berry harvests).  If you added up the total production and divided it by the required human input (0) the yield would shame any commercial farm, but, we individual humans deal in much shorter time scales and the volumes we have at our disposal are very small.  Over the long term, nature, on it's own does a far better job, but we can create some uniquely productive and beautiful places if we take the time to learn how the needs of the plants evolved for the ecosystem where they thrived.
Our small plantings attempt to mimic some of these ideal conditions, by supplanting a natural area's  shear volume and flexibility, with human labor.  It's a poor substitute that requires a lot of attention to detail, but it can work if you do your part and garden wisely.

If you've every had, what you thought was, a perfectly-balanced planted area, just walk away from it for five years and watch nature humble you.  Your hard work will be well on it's way to being replaced with what is really best grown in that spot.  If you could come back in 100 years you'd see the succession and probably see none of your initial efforts.  My point being that our gardens require constant human input to do what we want them to do, we can minimize that effort through careful planning and thoughtful husbandry, but in the end we are trying to force nature to bend to our will.  That can be achieved, in the short term, but the harder we try to bend nature, the more effort it takes.


Cane fruits naturally grow in more open areas at the edge of the trees or clearings with lots of sun and good moisture, blueberries tend to like some protection and a bit of shade, fruit trees thrive when they aren't competing for nutrients to create their large, energy-expensive fruits.  You CAN put these plants together, but their diverse requirements mean more effort to allow them to thrive.
 
Lisa Lebeau
Posts: 24
Location: Bitterroot Valley, MT
1
forest garden foraging homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well said, Steve!
 
pollinator
Posts: 3275
Location: Toronto, Ontario
403
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd like to echo much of what Steve Oh has said.

My approach to the dominance of nature over time is to introduce a diversity of plantings at every trophic level, but to try and afford them as much sun as they can handle as smaller plants. That way, if I walk away, I know that there's a better chance of something resembling my design remaining if I return in a decade.

But realistically, you can do almost whatever you want, if you plan your system around your wants and their corresponding needs. The rub is that we have limited sight, which limits the efficacy of our plans.

If you want to mix all the apple trees, all the pear trees, all the stonefruit trees, the mulberries and the hazels, and all the berries, both cane fruit, those on woody shrubs, and herbaceous ones, with an overstory of chestnut, it is my feeling that more would be needed than simply to be planned out precisely in pattern and spacing, such that as everything grows, the shade-lovers are in behind the sun-fiends; there is a chance that such a system, properly conceived and executed, could be set up to thrive for extended periods without human intervention. Control could be maintained with mechanical constraints, such as barrier/access paths between berry strips and trees, and biological ones, oregano and mints as highly-competitive groundcovers that crowd out runners and young cane sprouts.

But in the end, we are more likely to need to exert some form of control over these systems to keep them accessible and productive for our needs. Perennial food systems are great, but just because you don't have to plant every year doesn't mean there's no need for human intervention, from the standpoint of keeping the system useful to humans.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 1031
Location: Longbranch, WA
141
goat tiny house rabbit wofati chicken solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is not being a good neighbor to plant canes and vines that tip root on a property line fence because they will inevitably invade the other side of the fence. Trees on a property  line need to have a shape plan where they don't invade the air space, sun space that belongs to the neighbor. Bushes and dwarf trees can be managed in such a space.  The original poster showed a picture with 2 trees in a lawn. Such trees can be used as living posts if you put screw eyes in them with a long shank so the tree can continue to grow around them. then wires between the trees can be used to train veining and caning berries. This gives you access to both sides so that you can control and harvest them.
 
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more ... richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!