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Zone 6a Fruit Guild Help

 
Posts: 8
Location: Michigan, Zone 6a, Clay soil, 0.5 acre suburban yard with downwards-sloped hill to a wetland border.
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Hi folks, like the title suggests, I'm in zone 6a (Michigan) and looking for help with designing fruit guilds.

My long term goal is to turn my entire back yard (about 0.3 acre) into a food forest (focus on low maintenance, food production and variety).

The initial designing of guilds has been...challenging for me.

I'd love some help designing a few guilds that are centered on edible plants. Exotic is fine. Standard is fine. Variety is great.

I have a location prepped for this coming spring where I'll be planting 2 semi-dwarf cherry trees and 2 semi-dwarf peach trees by my back deck (which is a good 5 feet above ground level).
I have no idea what to plant to support these trees. The tree line/curve will be approximately North/South with the deck and house to the East.
I thought maybe salal or huckleberries for shrubs and wintergreen or gaulnettya for ground cover but honestly I'm application ignorant (and maybe several other types of ignorant =).

I have another area that is downhill and bit above a small wetland area. (There is a light, scraggly tree line to the West of this location, the slope of the hill to the East and nothing to the N/S.)
I'd like to plant some paw paw trees here.
I was thinking possibly blueberries, honey berries, and/or elderberries as shrubs in the area and maybe low bush cranberries as a ground cover.

I'd really appreciate help, advice, resources, anything.
 
Posts: 28
Location: Kentucky - Zone6
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I am in zone 6 (South Ohio) with clay soil, I have had good success with:

- raspberries
-(thornless) blackberries
- Comfrey (bocking 14) - dynamic accumulator
- jerusalem artichokes
- Egyptian walking onions
- sweet potato (ground cover)
- Gooseberries

Those 7 are very low-maintenance and resilient

Some others I am trying now:
- Seaberry
- Goumi

Some I have not had success with:
- Blueberries

Blueberries need acid soil to thrive but no matter what additive I provide, it does not seem to take off, instead I planted serviceberry this year, which alledgedly tastes similar, the jury is still out on these.

M
 
Greg Myers
Posts: 8
Location: Michigan, Zone 6a, Clay soil, 0.5 acre suburban yard with downwards-sloped hill to a wetland border.
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Maarten Smet wrote:I am in zone 6 (South Ohio) with clay soil, I have had good success with:

- raspberries
-(thornless) blackberries
- Comfrey (bocking 14) - dynamic accumulator
- jerusalem artichokes
- Egyptian walking onions
- sweet potato (ground cover)
- Gooseberries

Those 7 are very low-maintenance and resilient

Some others I am trying now:
- Seaberry
- Goumi

Some I have not had success with:
- Blueberries

Blueberries need acid soil to thrive but no matter what additive I provide, it does not seem to take off, instead I planted serviceberry this year, which alledgedly tastes similar, the jury is still out on these.

M



Thanks. I've had great success with the raspberries and blackberries previously. I've had mint successfully grow in established raspberry crops too...although, no clue if that's an advisable thing or not =)
Personally am trying goumi, currants, and gooseberries now.

If you'll spare some more insight:

Did you plant these guys all together in a guild?

How do you control the spread of the Jerusalem artichokes?
It's main purpose is the solid taproots to break up soil, right?
How do you harvest it without bothering the roots of other plants too much?

Where did you get your walking onion and artichoke seeds?

Any fruit/nut trees you've had a good experience with?
 
Maarten Smet
Posts: 28
Location: Kentucky - Zone6
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I am still optimizing my guilds, my guilds are only 3 species, with one of them comfrey so nothing too sophisticated. I had good success with sweet potatoes last season as cover crop so will use that in all my beds that need cover.

I have my Jerusalem Artichokes in beds, I am planning to plant some tomatoes/onion combo where I pulled them last year. If there are some that I missed I don't care, pretty sure they will attract soil life that will benefit the tomatoes. I have one bed dedicated for my neighbor's pleasure. 2 Years ago, she commented how nice the JAs looked from her window sill so I have kept a bed just for her viewing pleasure. As I don't plant JAs with other perennials, I have no issues pulling it, I guess you could plant it with annuals.

One note about the Jerusalem artichokes: You can pull the chokes up by pulling up by the stem, although that can leave some behind but that is probably less destructive to nearby root systems

I got my walking onion and artichoke from Amazon, the JA came from Verdant Treasures (they also provided my comfrey), I am very happy with Verdant Treasures as they sent me a replacement comfrey when the first one arrived dead. I ordered the artichokes a year later and they added another comfrey for free to my artichokes order just in case the replacement comfrey did not work. Artichokes replicate like rabbits, walking onions are not as prolific (at least not with me), I ordered 3 walking onions and if I would do it again would probably order 10 or more so I have a sizable number quicker.

I have pawpaw, apples and mulberry. The only that has showed decent growth is mulberry, the other ones just grow leaves without growth. I am thinking that I used the wrong planting method. For the older apple trees, I dug a hole in my clay, put some soil amendments, fertilizer, fluffy soil in it with the tree so in essence the roots are constricted to that hole as it is easier for the roots to stay in the nice fluffy soil area and not dig into the harsh clay. Last year I planted the new  apple trees in the clay soil, with the soil amendments, manure, aged wood chips on top of the soil so the tree has to root into the clay but still has nutrients 'raining in' from above, so hopefully that works better. I am planning to mitigate the older no-growth trees by adding a circle of comfrey around it to break up the soild and help the roots escape into the clay (probably more than 1 circle).

Cheers

M







 
pollinator
Posts: 2409
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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forest garden solar
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Seaberry/goumi family
mint/thyme family
lovage/carrot family
onion/chive family
black berry subfamily
Gooseberry family
spinach family
dandelion family
seakale/cabbage family
 
Greg Myers
Posts: 8
Location: Michigan, Zone 6a, Clay soil, 0.5 acre suburban yard with downwards-sloped hill to a wetland border.
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S Bengi wrote:Seaberry/goumi family
mint/thyme family
lovage/carrot family
onion/chive family
black berry subfamily
Gooseberry family
spinach family
dandelion family
seakale/cabbage family



Did you plant these guys altogether as a guild? I can see most of the main guild niches covered here...I think.
No tree for the guild--any reason why?
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 2409
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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forest garden solar
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I have something from the mint, onion and nitrogen fixing family around all my plants.
The spinach family and dandelion family showup by themselves and I just make sure that they are very well settled in.
Other weed families show-up too sometimes I cull, other times I let them stay for a while

I have berries around all my plants sometimes it might be from the gooseberry family other times it might be from the blackberry or from the honeyberry family.
 
Posts: 89
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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goat building homestead
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Midwest Permaculture has some guilds
https://midwestpermaculture.com/eBook/Plant%20Guilds%20eBooklet%20-%20Midwest%20Permaculture.pdf

 
Greg Myers
Posts: 8
Location: Michigan, Zone 6a, Clay soil, 0.5 acre suburban yard with downwards-sloped hill to a wetland border.
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John Paulding wrote:Midwest Permaculture has some guilds
https://midwestpermaculture.com/eBook/Plant%20Guilds%20eBooklet%20-%20Midwest%20Permaculture.pdf



Thank you so much; exactly what I was looking for!

I'd love to know of more resources like this if folks have anything further along these lines.
 
author
Posts: 2
Location: Hengelo, The Netherlands
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I'm in the Netherlands, zone 7, but I think you should be able to grow most if not all of the plants I have in my apricot & peach guild.

Here's a little video we made about it, showing the plants and explaining their functions:

Hope that helps!
 
Posts: 150
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look for trees that naturally grow in your area, fruits nuts and berries
varieties that will naturally grow in your climate and soil type
might look for info from local extension office and dept of forestry
blueberry is great crop but needs well drained acid soil
black rasberry seems to grow in many places and soil types with no assistance at all
just a couple examples
 
Greg Myers
Posts: 8
Location: Michigan, Zone 6a, Clay soil, 0.5 acre suburban yard with downwards-sloped hill to a wetland border.
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Vera Greutink wrote:I'm in the Netherlands, zone 7, but I think you should be able to grow most if not all of the plants I have in my apricot & peach guild.

Here's a little video we made about it, showing the plants and explaining their functions:


Hope that helps!



Very helpful, thank you! Nice to see how many of the same plants we have going and you've given me some new ideas too! Plus a youtube channel to follow =)
 
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