I have new planted orchard that has several problems. First is grass, lots of it. I plan to schyte the meadow and mulch young trees. Other is wind, so far I have no windbreak. Another are wild animals, rabbit and deer, they are eating my trees. And so on. I have idea to improve situation with sunchokes, if they are compatibile with young trees.
I have a patch of sunchokes so tubers are resource that I have in abundance. I know sunchokes are quite heavy feeders, but can they be worse than meadow grass? Let's say I underplant trees with sunchokes. They will use some of nutrients for growth, but I'm not taking this away, they will die and decompose where they have grown. I can use them as wind and sun protection for fruit trees, they will keep soil shaded and moist, I guess. They will provide food for voles, so they wont eat fruit tree roots. In autumn, I can tie a bunch of stems around fruit tree to protect it from rabbit. And I have a soil full of food.
Promlem is if I try and notice it does not work, it is hard to get rid of sunchokes. I'm most concern of how agressive they are, will they consume all nutrients or water and let fruit tree to starve?
Why I'm not trying with other (tested) guilds? I will, I'm not planing to use this combination on whole orchard. Growing sunchokes is so easy that it looks like a good idea for suppressing grass.
I have not (yet) grown sunchokes, but do understand that they can be problematic with their promiscuity.
Another way to smother weeds might be ground vines such as squashes and melons. They can produce a lot of food for you, as well as chickens and hogs. The chicks can have some fresh food all winter with winter squash.
I have had trouble with sunchokes in shady places getting powder mildew, but one benefit to having them near fruit trees is that rodents like to eat them, so they might leave your bark alone. Works more for meadow voles than rabbits, I think.
Once you have them it is hard to change your mind, it is true. Mowing can keep them down.
I imagine the JAs would shade out the young trees, take over the orchard and prove themselves impossible to get rid of.
My JAs grow at least 6-8ft tall and I can't imagine a little fruit tree standing a chance.
It's very windy round here and I tie my JAs in a big kind of bundle, otherwise they'd blow over. Mine would make bad windbreaks, but good tree-squashers...
Can you get chipped tree mulch? If there's tree diseases around I don't recommend it, but a thick, like 15cm, layer straight onto grass (as long as it's not a running variety) will kill it off. When its dead, plant comfrey, sow clover, whatever!
Be careful if you mulch though, it needs to be kept away from trunks or they may rot.
I use windbreak cloth. If I had space, I'd grow a hedge behind it and take it own later, but I don't
JA's make a great windbreak and also are good at controlling other weeds and mulching the soil..however..do remember that they can take over an area so if you plan to plant other plants there avoid them in that area..I probably would use them as a hedge around the perimeters, esp as a windbreak..
they are also good forage
Bloom where you are planted.
At our house the deer love jerusalem artichokes, and right now it is so dry here they see anything green as food. If deer are already a problem it seems like the ja would just attract more deer to your fruit trees.
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It seems possible to get some varieties of JAs that are much shorter than the norm. I'm growing them this year and the ones I bought and planted from the store have grown only 3-4 feet tall, which provides a short(er than expected) windbreak and would be less competitive with things like fruit trees. btw, I was told how weedy JAs are but...other vigorous/aggressive plants can compete with JAs, so be careful what you plant with them. In one part of the garden, my winter squash plants have overrun, pulled down, and crushed/shaded the JA windbreak. :surprise:
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