Less than 15 hours left in our kickstarter!

New rewards and stretch goals. CLICK HERE!



  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Apple trees and their plant friends? Recommendations?  RSS feed

 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This post is for anyone who knows of shrubs, ground cover, vines, etc. (things smaller than apples trees) that grow well and work with apple and/or pear trees? I'm looking for plants to grow within a 6 foot radius of the apple/pear tree's trunk (or even on the tree if it doesn't harm it).

For your reference: In a 7b/8a plant hardiness zone with sandy-loam soil. The fruit trees are in rows (and tend to be the tallest trees in the vicinity), so any ground cover will receive shade and sun as the angle of the sun changes.

PS I have a similar post related to orchards, but it is asking more about the big picture/system for Orchard Permaculture. However, information for this post (the one you are on) would be welcome on that topic as well, as it will play into that larger picture.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
#1 ground cover/living mulch/bio-accumulator for fruit trees is comfrey.
 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cj Verde wrote:#1 ground cover/living mulch/bio-accumulator for fruit trees is comfrey.


Awesome, thanks! Any other suggestions for good neighbors to the tree? Something that provides something good to eat?
 
Curt Regentin
Posts: 17
Location: Northern Mich. Zone 5
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jordan,

I would HIGHLY recommend video "Holistic Orcharding" by Michael Phillips. He has an established orchard with 80 different varieties of apples plus some pears and cherries. While his trees are in rows, he's become a strong believer in polycultures. A significant section of the video is devoted to companion plants he plants around his apple trees and to his chop and drop timing to best help his trees. I'll be watching this video several times as I try to improve the health of my small fledging orchard.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
51
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my limited experience basically anything other than grass is good! I've deep mulched with wood chips around some of my trees over the past few years and had very good results. They seem to set more fruits and cope better with hot dry spells in summer.

In the mulch I have a few things - some walking onions, some bunching onions, globe artichokes (thistle family so deep powerful taproot and the leaves make good mulch), comfrey (already mentioned - bioaccumulator), strawberries ( I'm letting their runners go all over the chips), rhubarb.

This year I'll be adding some more berry plants that I propagated from cuttings last year (red currants, black currants).

I'd like to add more of pretty much everything, but progress depends on mulch availability and the priority is the vegetable beds. Last year was my first with the comfrey, globe artichokes and various onions so I'm keen to see how they do in their second year. I'm expecting a lot more leaf to chop and drop.

I'm still looking for a good understory perennial n-fixer. In the short term I'm experimenting with sowing some dwarf beans directly into the mulch. Elsewhere in the garden I've some runner beans which are potentially perennial in our climate - if they make it through the winter they will form the basis for a breeding project (a perennial dwarf runner that can be planted near fruit trees to climb up them without further support, and without swamping the trees too badly.
 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Cox wrote:In my limited experience basically anything other than grass is good! I've deep mulched with wood chips around some of my trees over the past few years and had very good results. They seem to set more fruits and cope better with hot dry spells in summer.

In the mulch I have a few things - some walking onions, some bunching onions, globe artichokes (thistle family so deep powerful taproot and the leaves make good mulch), comfrey (already mentioned - bioaccumulator), strawberries ( I'm letting their runners go all over the chips), rhubarb.

This year I'll be adding some more berry plants that I propagated from cuttings last year (red currants, black currants).

I'd like to add more of pretty much everything, but progress depends on mulch availability and the priority is the vegetable beds. Last year was my first with the comfrey, globe artichokes and various onions so I'm keen to see how they do in their second year. I'm expecting a lot more leaf to chop and drop.

I'm still looking for a good understory perennial n-fixer. In the short term I'm experimenting with sowing some dwarf beans directly into the mulch. Elsewhere in the garden I've some runner beans which are potentially perennial in our climate - if they make it through the winter they will form the basis for a breeding project (a perennial dwarf runner that can be planted near fruit trees to climb up them without further support, and without swamping the trees too badly.


Thanks! Keep me informed on your n-fixer quest, or any other revelations
 
Peter Smith
Posts: 83
Location: NEPA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Horseradish.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here are my full notes on Apple trees guilds:

Comfrey, Daffodil, Iris around base to suppress sod. The comfrey is toxic to rodents.
Brambles growing under apple trees act as a mulch.
Fennel & nasturtium are good too.
Horseradish grown under apple trees it is said to prevent brown rot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.
Fennel as understory to protect from codley moth.
 
Ben Stallings
Posts: 159
Location: Emporia, KS
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've had no luck with fennel or nasturtiums. When I planted my pear tree 6 years ago, I planted raspberries, strawberries, mint, bunching onions, and comfrey as well as some annuals. The annuals were gone after the first year, but the mint and strawberries filled in well (and have sold well at market), and the raspberries are now producing well. I hope to finally get some pears this year!
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ben Stallings wrote:I've had no luck with fennel or nasturtiums. When I planted my pear tree 6 years ago..


What works for apples, wont necessarily work for pear.
 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cj Verde wrote:
Ben Stallings wrote:I've had no luck with fennel or nasturtiums. When I planted my pear tree 6 years ago..


What works for apples, wont necessarily work for pear.


What have you seen for pear guilds?
 
Akiva Silver
Posts: 157
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Autumn olives thrive underneath my apple trees. Every few years, I hack the autumn olives back so they don't get out of control.
 
James Colbert
Posts: 271
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I kinda feel like the idea of guilds has messed people up. You can plant almost anything with apple trees let alone any other fruit tree. The list includes: comfrey, lupine, vetch, mustard, garlic, onions, strawberries, cane berries, sunflower, buckwheat, cowpea, nettles, daikon, borage, yarrow, bell bean, alfalfa, and even grasses like rye and oats. The better question is what you should not plant with the tree. Skeeter said it best, "the more things you plant together, the less problems you have."

Oh and a perennial N2 fixer... how about clover. There is a type for almost any climate.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jordan Struck wrote:
Cj Verde wrote:
Ben Stallings wrote:I've had no luck with fennel or nasturtiums. When I planted my pear tree 6 years ago..


What works for apples, wont necessarily work for pear.


What have you seen for pear guilds?


Oddly, nothing.
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read somewhere that daffodils are good around fruit trees to protect their roots from voles. Supposed to be poisonous, I think to them, or at least totally revolting to them.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Re daffodils; be careful not to confuse them with an edible allium. Eric Toensmeier writes of a scary moment when he realized his roommate had gathered some spring onions for a meal, but mistakenly grabbed daffodils. Problem recognized and managed with no harm, but if an experienced plant geek can slip up like that it is worth mentioning.
 
Jordan Struck
Posts: 65
Location: Oregon (zone 7b), 31.3 inches/yr rainfall
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What are some good taproots for apple/pear orchards? (Zone 7)
 
Watch the full PDC and ATC from home. As much or as little as you want: http://kck.st/2q6Ycay.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!