• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Help w/ tree guilds for pre-planted mixxed fruit mini-orchard?

 
                  
Posts: 1
Location: Oceanside, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello. I'm a new permi who wants to guild-out a small two row orchard consisting of mixed trees. The soil is sandy w/ a touch of loam, well-drained, southern CA coastal mediterranean climate, mostly full sun, not much wind or other particular sector influence; except!- The Bermuda grass sector (boo, hiss). Bermuda grass is a powerful force in our garden spreading in from nearby lawns. A major focus of all my work there now consists of planting (& etc.), to stifle or out compete the evil grass. The one other sector of note is the garden sector. The orchard is a sliver of a large organic community garden that sometimes has pest issues or powdery mildews on squash, etc, that might or might not come mess with the trees. (Some citrus trees in another area of the garden are currently stricken with leaf-miners, for instance.) Gophers and rodents are also regular nuisances approaching from the garden sector (25-30ft west of the orchard).

Forgive me for not having precise measurements, but, from north to south, at about 8.5ft intervals, we have planted, in small gopher cages; Anna Apple, Babock White Peach, Panamint Nectarine, Bonita Peach, Gold Kist Apricot, Pineapple Guava, Satsuma Plum. That is row one. The second and final row is about 6ft East from the first and planted offset from the first row so that the trees form a triangle grid, not a square one. The first tree (from N. to S.) is a Santa Rosa Plum, forming a point to a triangle whose base would be the Anna Apple & Babock Peach of the first row. All at about that 8.5ft spacing. So moving south from the Santa Rosa Plum, the second row at 8.5ft intervals continues with a Spice Zee Nectaplum, Kadota Fig, Improved Brown Turkey Fig, Dorsett Golden Apple, Flavor Grenade Pluot, and ending with a Goldfinger Banana which is capitalizing on the shade of a large Tipuana Tipu nearby (planted across a wall, so I'm not sure we're getting nitrogen fixing from its roots on our side, though it is gifting us mulch). About 8ft east of the 2nd row is a small brick wall topped by a chain fence which is the property line. I believe we can utilize the fence but need to not plant to damage the wall. On the other side is a large Bermuda lawn and that Tipuana Tipu.

We currently have drip lines run to each tree and the potential to double H20 from existing piping.
We have plenty of seed for common things like onions, beets, etc, and can always get more.
We have a 1-3 each sproutling Tipua Tipus, Japanese Orchids, Mesquites, and Mimosas to plant as nitrogen fixers /mulch sources. Though limited area to plant them near the orchard.
We have access to regular volunteer groups and donations of materials and $.

So I want advice. I'm hoping no one will say that the trees have been mis-planted in relation to one another, though if we need to dig them up and move them better to hear it now than later. All the trees are about 4ft tall and been planted since June. Really want to know what companion plants to plant and where they should be placed in relation to one-another and the trees as planted (or moved if need be). Since this is a garden setting my preference is that companion plants be edible but whatever makes a proper guild foremost.

I have quiet a few ideas myself, and intend to research this at depth. But as I said, I am new at this so any advice is great. Please surprise me! I will post results of my research, decisions, and photos when I get them if people take interest in the thread. If I forgot anything important, please let me know. Anyone in North San Diego can drive by site in Oceanside, CA at 4510 N. River Road. It is behind the Shepard of the Valley Lutheran Church, (use their parking), park in back and don't disturb them except to be nice. Just pop into Bronner Field and you'll see the orchard immediately on the right. Thanks in advance for the help and for being permies. peace&one
 
Noah Figg
Posts: 57
Location: DFW Area, Texas
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not very experienced with tree care, Mr. Perry, but I have a few thoughts that may help.

First, I didn't notice if you said what kind of slope exists in the mini-orchard area. If there is any slope (or really in any case), I would consider if water catchment of some kind could be of benefit. Plant water as they say. Paul Wheaton typically has only good things to say about at least giving the land some variation, even if it is generally flat. Some dips and crests will create some shelter from wind, moist spots and give the opportunity for more diverse communities with the polarized cool/warm, dry/wet regions that the variations create.

If you would to delve in further, in a recent podcast "292: Review of the Permaculture Orchard" (of the DVD):
http://www.permies.com/t/36584/podcast/Review-Permaculture-Orchard
Paul /Wheaton discusses his philosophy about orchard systems. Some points I captured:
a) provide a ground cover or grass will be it
possible solution if you have grass, let it grow tall and chop and drop--smothers future grass, creates soil, feeds the trees
c) only 1 in 10 trees should be a single species
d) maybe every 1 of 3 trees a nitrogen fixer, 1 of 3 trees a fruit tree, 1 of 3 tree a nut tree.
e) don't plant in straight lines because wind has an easier path through it

Sadly, this usually means perhaps taking out trees that are already there, but perhaps given the existing variety and spacing, you may be able to add between and to the edges of the fruit trees to accomplish something close to this.
As far as I have heard, some of these support species can thrive nearby to fruit trees, but I guess with more mature existing trees, the roots may prevent planting too close.

Good luck, I'm sure more experienced persons can drop by and help more.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2295
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like a fine little orchard!

I hope those are semi-dwarf trees (or even dwarf trees), or else 8.5 ft spacing is going to get a little crowded.

One thing I would suggest is to plant nasturtiums as companion plants/ground covers. I know they do very well in San Diego, since CalTrans uses them for freeway landscaping, so why not go with what works! Let them just spread and cover the ground as a living mulch. (And nasturtiums are edible.)

Garlic is also a good companion plant for fruit trees. All of mine have some of the native wild garlic growing within the drip line.

The nice thing about San Diego county is you can grow almost anything there, just as long as it gets enough water, and you said you have drip lines, so that problem is solved. Good luck with it.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliott wrote:
I hope those are semi-dwarf trees (or even dwarf trees), or else 8.5 ft spacing is going to get a little crowded.


I was thinking the same thing.

Comfrey does well under all fruit trees, suppressing grass and providing mulch. I'm trying nasturtiums for the first time this year.

Horseradish is supposed to be good under apples, it is said to prevent brown rot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.
Fennel as understory to protect from codley moth.
Umbelliferae: predators like hover flies live in and around them, variaties that are even more useful are things like valerianis officianalis, parsnip, carrots and lots of others...

These ideas work for a rose guild (apples belong, like most fruit trees, to the rosacea family):
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2295
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cj Verde wrote:
Fennel as understory to protect from codley moth.


Oh, no. No,no, no. I don't ever want to write an unharmonious post here at Permies, but you can't be planting fennel, especially in Oceanside. It is HIGHLY allelopathic and will snuff out your orchard. It is best left in wild areas where it is naturalized along the seasonal creeks leading to the ocean. You aren't far enough inland where it gets dry enough to put a damper on fennel's invasiveness. If you have a taste for fennel, there are plenty of natural areas along the Southern California coast where you can harvest the wild stuff and help to keep it in check.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Elliott wrote:I don't ever want to write an unharmonious post here at Permies, but you can't be planting fennel, especially in Oceanside. It is HIGHLY allelopathic and will snuff out your orchard.


This is the first I'm reading about that and I don't consider it inharmonious at all.

My notes say that Fennel is an upright self-seeding biennial or short lived hardy perennial with umbel shaped flowers in summer. Nothing whatsoever on allelopathic properties. Is this your experience or did you have a source? I'll google around and see what I come up with.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This may wind up as it's own thread but:

The Apiaceae seeds: fennel, cumin, caraway, celery, dill, anise and coriander were found to inhibit germination of lettuce at various seed densities.

Seems to be allelopathic to most garden vegetables, but I'm still finding recommendations to plant with apple trees. Here's a nice pic:


It's from this article on reviving old apple trees.
 
Patrick Mann
Posts: 302
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lots of good suggestions already.
I also like to plant (or allow volunteers of) rhubarb, burdock, lupine, carrot, parsnip, phacilea, clover, foxglove
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2295
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cj Verde wrote:
This is the first I'm reading about that and I don't consider it inharmonious at all.

My notes say that Fennel is an upright self-seeding biennial or short lived hardy perennial with umbel shaped flowers in summer. Nothing whatsoever on allelopathic properties. Is this your experience or did you have a source? I'll google around and see what I come up with.


Perhaps in Vermont it is a mild-mannered biennial, but in coastal Southern California it is in its prime element. The high humidity, nightly onshore fog, and temps that rarely go above 80 give it super powers. It can grow 8-12' tall in one season, quickly swallowing up a full sized fruit tree. In places where it has established itself, like the Santa Barbara airport, it crowds out everything else and becomes a monoculture. Even on seaside bluffs, where it doesn't have much moisture, it will grow 6' tall, taller than the rest of the native scrub. If it has a source of ground water, like a marshy area, it can even compete with the invasive Arundo donax.

Don't get me wrong, I like fennel, especially adding the seed to Italian recipes, but everything in its right place. And on the coast in a Mediterranean climate, fennel is one of those ubiquitous herbs you gather on your nature walks.

 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wondered if the invasiveness was location specific.

I did a little digging around and that pic of the fennel & apple tree was from Australia.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic