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Sheet mulching around 2 apple and 1 cherry trees for spring companion planting? (Olympia, WA)  RSS feed

 
Posts: 7
Location: Olympia, WA, USA
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Hi, I am just getting started with gardening and permaculture related projects this year on an approx. 1 acre suburban property in Olympia, WA zone 8 (rainy with increasingly dry summers). We are in the process of getting professional design help.

I guess this year I should really be focusing on observation and soil improvement! And building my compost bin.

However, I am impatient and want to start planting stuff this year. For example I'd like to sow a few companion plants around these 2 older apple and 1 cherry trees.

Is it too late to do a sheet mulch to kill the grass and moss around the trees and build the soil up a bit for spring planting? Farmer's almanac says average date of last frost is towards the end of April.

And what are the best materials in the sheet mulch? I can get horse manure, coffee grounds, possibly seaweed (we live near the water), fairly easily. Not sure if anyone around will still have leaves left over from fall or grass clippings. I can buy compost, worm castings, and worm tea.

I have been trying to research what helps apple trees and what tolerates some shade, here is my list (don't know if these all tolerate partial shade):

Fava beans (shade tolerant? and nitrogen fixing)
White clover (tolerates partial shade, nitrogen fixing)
Comfrey
Daffodils
Yarrow
Nasturtiums
Garlic chives
Dill
Chamomile

Any input and reality checks will be appreciated. Thank you.
Margaret


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Posts: 25
Location: Kentucky - Zone6
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My biggest concern would be compaction of the current soil by adding new soil, suffocating the tree roots as they no longer can get oxygen. I would just add enough cardboard/paper to kill of the grass/moss and just enough wood chips/mulch to keep the cardboard/paper from flying away with the wind.

M
 
pollinator
Posts: 324
Location: Western Washington
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Hi Margaret,

I live just to the south of you, and I'll be working on a project a lot in the next few years near Olympia. I think that your idea to get started with the companion planting is a good one. I think all of those materials you listed would be great. If you do go with seaweed be sure to rinse it because of the salt (so I've heard anyway). I don't think that the sheet mulching would cause any compaction; I think it'd do the opposite. In our region I think you can sheet mulch any time of the year, with any season other than summer being ideal because of the rain (but watering in summer would also serve to keep the biology in the mulch alive. I'm not sure which of those plants tolerate shade, unfortunately.
 
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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I have a list for things that do well here in the shade!

*Digs around* AH-HA!

https://permies.com/wiki/76253/Edible-Plants-Shady-Wet-Areas

Nicole Alderman wrote:

Herbaceous Layer:

  • Wasabi
  • Wood/Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca) yummy little strawberries:
  • Wild violet (Viola odorata) edible, tasty flower
  • Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
  • Wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella): In the damper areas. Looks like cute little shamrocks and tastes like bright sunshine--a sweet and lemony flavor.
  • Sheep sorrel(Rumex acetosella): also seems to tolerate shade. A sweet, "lemony" leaf. Very tasty!
  • Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata): Tasty, mild green.
  • Siberian Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia sibirica): Sometimes tasty, sometimes tastes like dirt. The one's growing wild on my property taste like dirt :(. Make sure you're getting a tasty variety.
  • Licorice Fern: Grows on mostly maple trees that are growing in shady wet areas
  • Mushrooms! As long as you're not trying to grow them in a puddle, that is!


  • Vines Layer:

  • Trailing blackberry: Not really a vine, but kind of takes up that zone
  • Boysenberry:
  • Licorice fern: Not a vine, but it grows up on trees, so it thought I'd mention it here, too.


  • Shrub Layer:

  • Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium): Likes to grow on WesternRed cedar stumps and debri. Will fruit in full sun to dappled light/part-shade, maybe even full shade. Will grow in wetlands if growing on a log raised above the water
  • stink currant (probably other currants as well)
  • Nettle(Urtica dioica): Seems to handle shady and part shade rather well. Tasty leaves. Some manage to eat the raw without getting stung. I cook mine! Probably only want to eat 1-2 times per week, as it can cause damage to kidneys if consumed in LARGE amounts. Very nutritious plant, and a good source of protein, too!
  • Cascade Huckleberry ()Vaccinium deliciosum: Only partial shade
  • Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis):Doesn't fruit in full shade, but grows there and fruits in dappled light.
  • Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus): Fruits in part shade
  • [/list]
  • Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa): fruits in part shade on my property. Berries not edible unless processed carefully. Even then, not everyone agrees that they're edible. Flowers are edible.
  • Devil's Club: Shoots are edible, but i haven't tried them. The plant is medicinal. It's giant and thorny, though...
  • Sword fern: Supposedly the tubors are edible, but I haven't tried them
  • Lady fern: Supposedly, the "fiddleheads" are edible, but I haven't tried them.
  • Currant: My sink currant fruits in part shade, and grows in dappled forest (might fruit there, too.) Not sure about other currants, though...
  • Blackcap raspberry (Rubus leucodermis): supposedly likes part shade. I haven't tested this though. The berries are delicious.
  • Gooseberry




  • Under my fruit trees, I love green onions (I often just buy bundles of the organic ones at Fred Meyer/other grocery stores), wild strawberries, sheep sorrel, blackcap raspberries (very long/vine-like, and delicious!), lilies, chives, and miner's lettuce
     
    Posts: 4
    Location: SW Washington
    forest garden
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    Maarten Smet wrote:My biggest concern would be compaction of the current soil by adding new soil, suffocating the tree roots as they no longer can get oxygen. I would just add enough cardboard/paper to kill of the grass/moss and just enough wood chips/mulch to keep the cardboard/paper from flying away with the wind.

    M



    On sheet mulching--I live just a bit further south than James Landreth, west of Longview, WA, and am just over a year into implementing/learning permaculture in this region.  Last May we planted a number of mostly-native shrubs, ground cover, and a few trees, mostly in a nice big yard of lovely green grass.  I filled a wheelbarrow with water, soaked cardboard in it, laid it down around the plants--overlapping, and covered with 3-4 inches of grass clippings from lawn mowing.  At that time, grass was the most-available mulch.  By now the mulch has decomposed.  After wind had dropped many small douglas fir branches, our neighbor who has lived in the area for decades told me that after I pull whatever grass or other plants that have grown through or on the mulch layer, to mulch it all with the fir branches/needles  and the grass won't come back.  So that's what I'm trying.

    Around our old fruit trees, we've mulched with bark removed from firewood.  I want to cover the grass with cardboard and mulch out farther, to the driplines or beyond, and plant companion/support/layers of plants under and around these trees.  thank you all for the lists of plants.         Hannah
     
    He puts the "turd" in "saturday". Speaking of which, have you smelled this tiny ad?
    permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
    https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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