Coming up with a guild for your fruit trees is a core part of permaculture and can really help your fruit trees thrive. Really, a food forest is just a collection of fruit tree guilds that together mimic the connections that happen naturally in a forest.
But coming up with a complete guild for your fruit trees can be challenging. Especially, if you’re fairly new to planting in this way. Plus, if you don’t have your own propagation setup it can also be a bit expensive—even if you’re growing most of the plants by direct seeding.
Luckily, you don’t have to start with a complete guild—you can’t start with a few simple steps that you can then build on as you make more observations and learn about more plants.
This week’s blog post — 3 Steps to Start a Fruit Tree Guild
– covers 3 steps that will get your fruit trees off to a great start.
The 3 steps recommend (and covered in detail) in the blog post are:
1. Mulch the ground around your fruit tree.
2. Plant nitrogen fixing plants.
3. Control pests by planting flowering plants and adding rock/log piles.
You might notice that starting a fruit tree guild does not just mean planting more plants. Let’s dive into why I think you shouldn’t focus only on plants when coming up with a fruit tree guild.
Moving the Fruit Tree Guild Beyond Just Plants
In Toby Hemenway’s book Gaia’s Garden, he states that plant guilds:
form healthy, interacting networks that reduce the gardener’s labor, yield abundant gifts for people and wildlife, and help the environment by restoring nature’s cycles.
But this doesn’t need to be limited to only plants. Most trees and shrubs form connections with fungi in the soil—these fungi can help your fruit tree get access to nutrients and water.
This is why mulching the entire area around your fruit tree is the first thing I recommend for starting a fruit tree guild. The result is that right from the beginning your fruit tree guild will include all sorts of beneficial fungi.
I also recommend adding rock and log piles in addition to flowers around your fruit trees. The reason is that these habitat features provide places for predators that will eat the pests that try to go after your fruit trees.
By adding these habitat features plus the flowers you’re essentially adding a wide range of predators to your guild—critters such as ground beetles, frogs, salamanders, and centipedes.
Of course you can also help your fruit tree grow quicker by planting nitrogen fixing plants around it. Combined with the other 2 steps that wraps up the 3 simple steps you can take to start a fruit tree guild.
Creating a Foundation to Build on
When you start with mulch, nitrogen fixing plants, flowers, and rock/log piles you create a foundation that you can easily build on.
It’s easy to add to this starting fruit tree guild by planting some edible shrubs—gooseberries are a great option but I’m also a fan of hazelnuts—perhaps some ground covers like strawberries, and some perennial vegetables like Good-King Henry or kosmic kale. Bulbs like daffodils are always a good option to add!
But you don’t have to start with all those plants. Just start with the 3 steps covered in the blog post
and you will be off to a great start.
So what is your favorite plant to have as part of your fruit tree guilds? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to check out the blog post which covers these 3 steps in much more detail.
While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.
If you leave a comment on the blog post
make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.