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Developing guilds- using what is on hand

 
Brandis Roush
Posts: 37
Location: Central Minnesota
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I am working on developing guilds around the existing apple trees on our property, as well as the newly planted bushes and trees. Obviously the biggest obstacle for most of us is cost- While I think every penny I spend on moving towards permaculture is money well spent, I still have to have money to feed my family and not piss off my husband too much

So guilding and sheet mulching around the trees has been put off while I work on my zone one (as I should...), but I have been thinking and observing and have noticed a few things. We have two big clumps of lilies growing on the edge of our property. From what I have gathered from neighbors the previous owners used to mow down there, then they stopped and let it get all wild, and we are just now (well, my husband is, if it were up to me we would have left it as our zone 5- he did leave part, just not as much as I would have liked...) getting around to reclaiming it, which is how we discovered these lilies (we did know there was something orange blooming down there last summer, but didn't know what it was until my MIL identified it for me). We also have clumps of old fashioned iris, also from the previous owner. There are also lots of wild plants that I would like to move and/or encourage, like wild strawberries, violets, and blackberries.

So my question is, is there value in taking these resources I have on hand and making up the good part of most of my guilds with them? Like could I dig up the lilies and use them where daffodils would normally go in an apple guild? I also am working on a walnut guild, and I've heard wild strawberry makes good ground cover. The mix is lacking in N fixers, but we also have lots of clover growing mixed in with the grass, and I could add some others.

Any advice or feedback? Would I be missing out on certain benefits if I do this?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9452
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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If you can identify the lilies they might be edible. Both Daylilies and some other lilies such as Tiger Lilies are edible. There's certainly no reason not to include local edible plants in your guilds to make them more convenient to harvest. I'm including edible feral and wild plants in my gardens, and hope to include more because they might be more capable of surviving than domestics.

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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I concur that local native plants are great to have as part of your guilds, especially if they are edible, but they don't have to be. I'd be careful not to transplant grasses with the clover. Another cost saving approach is to try to identify a local plant that would make a good mulch plant, for chop and drop purposes. I was having a hard time finding comfrey, the plant mentioned as a great mulch plant, so in the mean time I noticed how fast dog fennel grows, making it a good mulch plant, and how dark green it is, which I thought might indicate that it is a good nutrient accumulator. Sure enough, my references state that fennels are good nutrient accumulators. So, I've saved many trips to the store for mulch by chopping and dropping dog fennel, which grows on our property and near by. Maybe you have some "weed" that grows fast around you? If so, you can cut it back, use the leaves for mulch and fertilizer, and let it grow back to serve you again. Having some of those right in your guild is as convenient as it gets.
 
Brandis Roush
Posts: 37
Location: Central Minnesota
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My mom says that if they're orange they're tiger lilies, but I'm not going to go on her ID alone. I'll double check before I eat any of them. What part is edible, the bulb/root?

It's still really early, but we don't have that many weeds. A few weeks ago I was looking for something to add N to my compost pile, and there was nothing to add. I do have a decent growth of thistles now, though, and sting weed, which we try to control because my husband is super sensitive to it (he is just sensitive- he also reacts to grape vine...). Both I have been chopping and dropping. I keep meaning to order comfrey, but it's $$$ I don't want to spend right now when I'm also spending money on chicken housing, other garden stuff... I figure I'll make that purchase mid season when I'm not so financially strapped- I'll be spending less and hopefully getting some income from selling various garden products.
 
L. Jones
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
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For daylilies I eat the flowers, but some other parts are also edible, I think, and you can eat the buds before the flowers open, but I prefer the flowers. There are supposedly varieties bred specifically for eating. One of these days I'll bother trying to track some stock for those down. Given that I have orange daylilies, as well as orange tiger lilies, I think your mom may not have her plant ID fully in order. Heck, you have orange daylilies.

I've been thinking I might try pumpkins around/between the young trees here, to help keep the grass down. Other than never having been all that linear, it's your standard orchard, pretty much, with too much grass near the trees (not enough time for enough mulching.) Gets mowed when possible, but parts have not been mown for a few years, and multiflora rose (which I can't find much reason to love) is springing up there. Wet clay "soil" and not enough time to make magic happen to cure that, either.

 
Varina Lakewood
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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Brandis Roush wrote:My mom says that if they're orange they're tiger lilies, but I'm not going to go on her ID alone. I'll double check before I eat any of them. What part is edible, the bulb/root?

It's still really early, but we don't have that many weeds. A few weeks ago I was looking for something to add N to my compost pile, and there was nothing to add. I do have a decent growth of thistles now, though, and sting weed, which we try to control because my husband is super sensitive to it (he is just sensitive- he also reacts to grape vine...). Both I have been chopping and dropping. I keep meaning to order comfrey, but it's $$$ I don't want to spend right now when I'm also spending money on chicken housing, other garden stuff... I figure I'll make that purchase mid season when I'm not so financially strapped- I'll be spending less and hopefully getting some income from selling various garden products.


Tiger lilies vary a little in color, from a sort of yellow to a dark orange, usually a sort of bright orange on the slightly dark side. However, there are lots of yellow and orange lilies, especially daylilies. What distinguishes tiger lilies is that they are always speckled with black spots. Also, unless you happen across one of the very new lily varieties that look like a double tigerlily, all tiger lilies are single flowers, never frilly or doubled. Tiger lilies tend to grow as single plants, sort of like an easter lily, but taller and thin. Daylilies grow in luxuriant bunches, though they can grow in more solitary in a habitat that they don't like, like heavy shade with zilch water. (I have some tall, spindly orange daylilies that do that. A variety I had never seen before moving to this neighborhood. They are still on tall spindly flower stalks in my neighbors' sunny planting, but they do bunch there.) If you have lilies growing in bunches, they are very likely daylilies, all parts of which are edible. An easy way for a positive identification, though, is to take a small section of the clump down to a local greenhouse or someone in your neighborhood who loves gardening and ask.

Also, if you don't mind an annual component to your guild, you might try beans or peas as a nitrogen fixer. (Though clover is good.) I had beans that did basically nothing last year except look green and as a result I didn't pick the few pods that did mature. They got dragged across my garden as I was cleaning it up, and the beans scattered. Some got buried, others tromped into the soil and others just snowed or rained in. I have a few that are four inches high and others still coming up all across my garden. Peas have a lower germination rate around here, but even if you pick most , a few pods left and scattered where you want them next year would make them basically a self-seeding annual. They come in the dwarf varieties, bush, semi-runner, pole, and runner. If you choose a runner, I would suggest scarlet runner bean, for its gorgeous red flowers, attractive vines, heavy yield (pick young for greenbeans) of foot-long flat-podded beans, and beautiful purple and black stripey beans (as a dry bean). Pole beans are the more tender rounder type, or can also be flat, they get about 6-8ft, as opposed to a runner's 8-15ft. Most varieties of beans and peas are cheap and easy to find.

If you prefer a perennial but nonedible beauty for nitrogen-fixing, there are lupines and sweet peas. Alfalfa or vetch are always possibilities, but basically of little human use, though they do attract pollinators and provide biomass nicely. Around here we have yellow sorrel (edible), which I am planning to use liberally as a N-fixer in my garden. They stay short, are a pretty red color, and have the added advantage of not being clover, which my dad roundly despises. They have the nicety of not attracting bees as pollinators, which is useful for a foot-level garden groundcover. The catmint and chives and dandelions are for the bees, where I don't have to worry about stepping on them.

I am a financially strapped gardener too. I look out for sales, freebies, and gardeners with abundant yards (often willing to share if you make friends first). I tend to buy seed now, since all the stores (not greenhouses, though) have their seeds on sale, trying to clear them out. 10%-50%, later on in the season they'll bee more like 40%-80% off, depending on the store. I keep an eye out for chance blown seedlings and wildlings that have made their way in, in case of something useful (or noxious) showing up. Last year I had petunias randomly show up in my garden. No idea where they came from, my garden used to be solid weed-lawn. Unwanted strays tend to outnumber the wanted strays by about 99>1.

Sometimes I ask around at work and get generous plant/seed donations/exchanges. I take scenic walks occasionally and either strike up conversations with people out gardening, or look out for stray plants. I don't (of course) recommend stealing, but I have a lovely patch of hen and chicks that originated from a patch that had grown through a fence and started to keep going into the neighboring apartment complex parking lot. I just pulled off a nice one that was quite clearly on the wrong side of the fence and only because it was obvious that neither party would care or even notice (an area well-known to me, not to be done if you aren't sure). Seeds are much easier unless they are from a rare plant, because few people will try to save seed from plants they plant right on the edge of their property. If you need to mail order seeds, the three cheapest catalogs I've found are Pinetree Gardens, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. Also, until you can afford Comfrey, why not dandelions? They're everywhere, and completely edible.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i'd keep the lilies away from the juglone from the walnuts, but otherwise they make great additions to guilds..I have all kinds here. The critters, esp bees, love them. Depending on the type of lilies they also can be great ground covers and places for overwintering beneficials..I have bulb lilies and daylilies all over the property here, daylilies are also edible.

I also have several types of iris growing all over our property,

both are easy to divide and move..as long as you have the strength to get them up out of the ground, some will form very dense mats that are difficult to get a shovel into, generally a fork is helpful or even two forks back to back to pry tight divisions apart..have fun
 
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