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Researching possible companion plants for my small orchard. Went back through the threads but didnt find what I was looking for, if I missed it my apologies. Wondering if anyone here has experience growing plants to repel pests in the NE? Repel and/or attract beneficial insects. One example being the Japanese beetles that love to devour our plum trees (we also have apple and peach).

Also good plants for building up soil and airrating? At what age would you begin planting? Our trees have only been in the ground one year, I imagine I would want to avoid planting anything too invasive for a few years until they get established. Anyone here used chickens to control bugs? I am considering bringing our chickens to the orchard when the japanese beetles start emerging to get a headstart on them, then removing the chickens after the bulk of adult are gone. Not even sure if a chicken would eat a JB? They are burley. I guess if a chicken will eat a pinky rat they should eat a beetle...
 
steward
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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If you can get your chickens in there, they will certainly help with the bugs. They will easily eat a Japanese Beetle or just about anything else they can fit in their face.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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This may sound silly but I have had great success hand picking Japanese Beetles. When they come out I walk around with a jar of soapy water and pick them off plants and throw them it. After about a week their numbers seem to drop dramatically and that's it for the year!
 
gardener
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Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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hi Abbey,

as far as companion plants are concerned
you could start with natives or a perhaps better description "locals"
flowering plants like yarrow, dandelions, violets, mints, daylilies
anything that won't get out of control but flowers
comfrey is good but can get too big for young plants (chop and drop is a good solution)
it also has a long flowering period
the goal is to have something flowering all thru the season
berry plants are good since they also provide fruit but you have to watch them as they like to take over
look around your yard and and nearby for inspiration
 
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