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Squash at base of mango tree?

 
Dani Arica
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Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
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Hi everyone!

I live in the tropics, and have a small mango tree (maybe 2-3 feet tall) that I planted about 6 months ago. It's doing well, but growing slowly, as I guess mangos do.

I just harvested some nice compost and surrounded the tree with a 6-inch layer of it about 2 feet around the entire tree. Then I planted some butternut squash seedlings in it.

Now, I'm kind of new at gardening, but my reasoning was that the squash leaves would shade the soil, since it's in a relatively sunny spot. My husband, however, is concerned that the squash will compete for nutrients with the tree and ultimately kill it. His reasoning is that a squash seedling sprouted in the pot of one of our baby avocado plants (from our vermicompost), and the tree died soon after.

Does anyone have any knowledge on this issue? I really don't want to kill my mango!

Thanks!
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Aloha Dani! I have two young mangos down on my seed farm. Both trees are close to 36" in height now. I have sweet potatoes planted around the bases in order to shade the soil and help keep down sprouting weeds. So far I haven't noticed anything detrimental to the mangos. Both are doing fine. But I do check their soil moisture a couple times a month and water as needed.

I don't know of any reason why a squash plant would kill the tree. That is of course assuming that the soil moisture and fertility is kept ok.......plus the vine is kept from growing up the tree. I am careful to keep the sweet potato vines off the little mangos. If the vines were to grow up the trees, then they would cut off much of the sunlight to the tree. That could cause the tree to become weak or eventually kill it.
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I'm very interested in this question. I planted a fig tree last year and mulched it with compost. Some sort of melon or maybe squash seeds sprouted out of the compost this spring and have been doing well, no doubt sucking up some of the copious nitrogen the fig gets, though they haven't flowered yet.

I was thinking, "cool, free melons!" but then this thread <http://www.permies.com/t/36659/forest-garden/grass-grow-fruit-tree> made me think that maybe having other things growing under a fruit tree wouldn't be good.

Obviously there are a lot of variables at work but I'm hoping that shading out weeds and providing a melon or squash or two will outweigh the competition of another plant under the fruit-bearer
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Mangos grow slowly!? Perhaps if your soil is poor. I have two mangos, which are about 6 year old now, about 30 feet tall - and 20 wide, and yes, they have been bearing mangoes for two three years now.

Didn't hurt that I planted them near the run off from our septic system... lol
 
Su Ba
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Wow, 6 years old, 30' tall? Yikes! My mangos I grafted onto second year stock. Then it took two years to really start filling out, they are now on their fifth year and looking like little trees but they are about three foot high. New growth is popping out all over so they should put some height on this year. My soil is quite poor, mostly lava rock and degraded lava. I'm in the process of aggressively adding amendments.
 
Dani Arica
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Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
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Wow, Fred! I'm super jealous of your mango trees! I may need to add some more nutrients to my soil... the compost might help but it sounds like you've got the magic scenario with it being near the septic system. That's not really an option in my suburban backyard, unfortunately.

Well, it doesn't sound like anyone *really* knows whether or not this will be a problem. I have heard, as another poster cautioned, that grass around young trees is a bad idea, but grass is notorious for competing with trees, and I was thinking squash might be different (being a part of the whole "3 sisters" planting scheme).

And Su Ba, I appreciate your first hand experience with it, and it sounds like so far, so good there. So I guess I'll keep them for now and monitor the tree really closely over the next few weeks.

If anyone else has any knowledge, please chime in!
 
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