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guilds of plants.

 
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Wonderful thread.
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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To avoid brambles from forming masses/balls at the base of trees, simple pruning and directing growth with hemp/sisal twine will train the new growth into the trees.  When the twine rots away in a few years, the canes will have already found their way into/onto the tree's limbs.  Unfortunately, if this makes them deer-proof, you will probably need a ladder for harvesting.
 
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I have some Pole Lima Beans that grow over 16feet high.
Gonna let them climb some smaller trees.
They are very vigorous growers.
The pods that cannot be reached can dry on the vines.
 
            
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Is anyone interested in suggesting what I should group together? I have started 70 plants for this season, it appears that all but two will make it. Here is what I have Tomato, Spinach, Romaine, Carrot, Onion, Radish, Swiss Chard, Green Bell Pepper, Zucchini and Yellow Squash. I will also be planting some Basil, Rosemary and Thyme.

I know that Basil and Tomato go well together. And, from a previous post, it sounds like Carrots love Tomatos. Is anyone willing to tell me which ones I should group together?

Thanks for the help.

 
                                    
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z6 central ohio

wild guilds I have noticed.
it has been said in previous posts that the pawpaw and the mulberry will grow well under the walnut.
i have seen these plants also with hackberry and pear..almost everywhere that I find pawpaw I also find canadian ginger right under it.... horsechestnut also seems to be pretty prolific near the pawpaw and the walnut.

these particular plant guilds are within 100 ft of a river with towering poplars as an overstory.
also grapes, boxelder, sycamore, elms,
 
Posts: 104
Location: Rutledge, MO
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Greetings Permies!

I thought I would share a few naturally occuring plant guilds I have observed in central and east Texas:


1. Native "weeds" - good for understory beneath primary grops, in areas where livestock are freeranging in a paddock shift system, or in otherwise unproductive areas

Clover (most any kind, soil builder)
+
Ragweed (goats seem to eat it before anything else)
+
Chickweed (edible, fast growing, early developer, good for small livestock - chickens/guineas love it)
+
Henbit (edible, fast growing, early developer, good for small livestock)
+
Dandelion (edible, tap root, soil conditioner)
+
Bull thistle and Sow thistle (same as dandelion - edible leaves, the stalk can be peeled and eaten, tastes rather like celery; also a protective plant, as most ungulates do not touch them)
+
Sheep sorrel (edible, very shade tolerant, pollenator attractor)
+
Oxalis/wood sorrel (edible soil builder, but has oxalic acid in it)
+
Pigweed (edible, good forage, high nitrate content)
+
Tansy mustard (not to be confused with actual tansy, edible, good forage, shade tolerant, wet soil tolerant)
= Many of these are native plants, found throughout North America, commonly found growing together all over east Texas and elsewhere


2. Semi-aqautic/aquatic stuff, things that like their feet wet
Pennywort (edible, can be used to make a drink popular in Asian cuisines)
+
Peppergrass (edible, native substitute for piquant spices, one of the first things to come up in spring)
+
False hawksbeard (edible, erosion control, pollenator attractor, favorite hangout of dragonflies)
+
Pellitory aka cucumber weed (edible, delicious in salads, good forage and mass groundcover)
+
Bullrush (versatile, edible plant, cattails)
+
Yellow pond lily (versatile edible plant, evaporation crontrol)
+
Water hyacinth (versatile edible plant, awesome livestock feed, evaporation control, very fast grower)
+
Water hyssop (very good medicine with benefits to memory)
+
Stinging nettles (you know this one)
+
Duck potatoes (edible tuber)
= Many of these are native plants, can grow near ponds or creeks, and have a range of uses, seen growing together in east Texas and elsewhere


3. Plants compatible in a food forest:
Hickory/pecan (edible nuts, tall, fairly straight growing, many botanical similarities, valuable cooking wood)
+
Sassafras (leaves used as a spice, bark of the roots used in old fasioned root beer - technically illegal, for no good reason, but you can make it for yourself)
+
Mulberry (you know this one - in east Texas, mulberries are often to be found with sassafras, and look nearly identical as saplings - mulberries are generally sun loving, and the sassafras generally shade loving, growing underneath mulberries and pecans, sometimes cottonwood too)
+
Red Bay tree (leaves used as a spice, medicinal properties)
+
Wax myrtle (can be used to make a kind of soap, good insect repeller in leaves, leaves smoked by indigenous Americans)
+
Elderberry (edible berries)
+
++ (I always see mulberry, sassafras, wax myrtle and elderberry growing together along riverbanks - wax myrtle and mulberry seem to overhang the water itself - sometimes wild grapes grow amongst them too)
+
Winged Sumac and lkindred species (edible flowers, berries can be used to make a kind of "lemonade" when steeped in water)
+
Smilax/Bull briar (edible root and berries)
+
Sweetgum (sap used like maple sap)
+
Saw palmetto and pirate palm (edible berries, mostly in hot regions of the gulf coast)
+
Ground cherry (related to tomato, small numbers of fruit, intensely flavored, good shade tolerance)
+
American beautyberry/French mulberry (inspid edible berry, small livestock, birds, rodents and raccoons love them; leaves make an outstanding insect repellent by rubbing them on the skin, shade tolerant)
+
Goldenrod (medicinal properties, blossoms made into tea, pollenator attractor)
+
Wild grape/Muscadine grape (found mostly in the gulf coast area, may include other grape species - I often see these growing amongst liveoak boughs, leaves edible too)
+
Dewberry (basically a southern blackberry, low growing)
+
False pennyroyal (same uses as European pennyroyal)
+
Spidewort (edible, one of the few true blue flowers)
+
Deerberry/huckleberry (edible, dense groundcover, shade tolerant)
+
Persimmon (edible fruit, I usually see these in sunny spots between a wooden area and a road, often right on the edge of the pavement, but they seem to need more water than is available in central/west Texas)
+
Gallberry holly (evergreen, leaves make a delicious tea, possible substitute for Asian grown green teas)
= I see these growing more or less together throughout coastal Texas


4: Arid lowland regions, like central Texas, where I live:
Opuntia (all species are edible, produce wonderful fruit, mostly for jelly making, good perimeter protection, they are great havens for wildflowers)
+
Mesquite (plays a similar role to acacias - some say it is host to nitrogen fixing bacteria, others say it isn't, I don't know who to believe! - valuable hardwood for craft uses, cooking and making liquid smoke, good insect repellant when burned, edible seed pods mostly for ungulate livestock and turkeys, very thorny and grows densely, good for perimeter protection, produces little shade and coexists well with other trees)
+
++ (Mesquite, opuntia and seasonal wildflowers are the ubiquitous natural guild over countless acres in central and southern Texas)
+
Pindo palm/Jelly palm (probably my favorite fruit, low water requirements, commonly found as a suburban ornamental, formerly a mainstay of southern plantations as a sign of prosperity, I often see wildflowers growing under them around here)
+
Yucca (you know this one)
+
Amaranth (I have had success growing it in sunny areas on a small scale, quail and dove love it - both valuable hunting fowl)
+
Pomegranate (of all the fruit trees I have seen growing wild in the area, pomegranate consistently seems to be one of the healthiest)
+
Texas crabapple (Malus ioensis/Pyrus ionensis - beloved by deer, horses and goats, though not so palatable to people)
+
Wild onions + bluebonnets (these go together like peanut butter and jelly, I've read that bluebonnets are a nitrogen fixer)
+
Conventional farmers in central and south Texas grown many of the things you would associate with the Mediterranean, like olives, citrus, stone fruit, etc - this area is famous for melons, so these things are good candidates as well, if you live in a smilar environment. Among common sunloving annual crops, tomatoes are among the hardest to grow profitably here because they have a short season - fruit will not set in temperatures above 90F or so. Oldtimers swear by blackeyed peas and other bush type beans, summer squash, peppers/chilis of all kinds and okra.
= We get around 15 inches of rain per annum here, with mild winters and mostly alkaline soil.

5: Cautionary tale: based on personal experience

Water cress (delicious and nutritious)
+
Water hemlock (highly poisonous, a dab will do ya)
= Important to know, especially if you are foraging wild specimens, because they almost always seem to be found amongst eachother around here, and you don't want hemlock in your salad!
 
Posts: 415
Location: Georgia
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I brought this question up in another thread the other day about Swiss Chard and Tomatoes.
Do they get along? The attached photo shows a bed that contains strawberries, garlic, swiss chard
and a cage of tomatoes. Is that a grouping that anybody has any insight on?
Photo002.JPG
[Thumbnail for Photo002.JPG]
 
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Alex Ames wrote:I brought this question up in another thread the other day about Swiss Chard and Tomatoes.
Do they get along? The attached photo shows a bed that contains strawberries, garlic, swiss chard
and a cage of tomatoes. Is that a grouping that anybody has any insight on?



I've heard that growing strawberries and garlic produces garlic-flavored strawberries.
 
Alex Ames
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Caleb Worner wrote:

Alex Ames wrote:I brought this question up in another thread the other day about Swiss Chard and Tomatoes.
Do they get along? The attached photo shows a bed that contains strawberries, garlic, swiss chard
and a cage of tomatoes. Is that a grouping that anybody has any insight on?



I've heard that growing strawberries and garlic produces garlic-flavored strawberries.



It seems like it might but the flavor on these was excellent.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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Old post but I may have found a working blueberry/willow guild link: http://www.appropedia.org/Willow_and_blueberry_guild
 
gardener
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Some I've found and will probably do again:

beets, parsnip, and beans - the beats get big first, and are harvested as the beans get ready to produce, and are harvested, and then the parsnip finish up the rest of the year and into the winter.

Tomatoes and onions - the onions grow through the tomato leaves, just as crab grass wood. I'd also try throwing in some peas since they can climb both the onions and tomatoes and can stay hidden from varmints.

Blackberries and oaks in a moist environment.

Squash snaking from a compost hill into grassland. The squash will dig tendrils and roots into the lawn, strengthening it against vine borers and adding fertility, a the same time, the grass keeps the fruit off the ground. The grass ends up basically unharmed, except where the fruit sat. You do have to keep the lawn from mowing or trampling during this time, so this would probably good for a pasture at rest or something.


Things I am adverse to due to experience:

I would not mix anything with radishes or arugula, until I want them to go to flower. They are fast and aggressive.

I would not mix lettuce with tomatoes because lettuce we want leaves (i.e. nitrogen) and tomatoes we want flowers (i.e. phosphorus), but tomatoes can be real greedy about gobbling nitrogen, and the root area is about the same.

I would not mix cucumber and tomatoes together. For whatever reason, when I tried lining them up to overlap, they simply avoided each other.

I would not mix anything that could cross-breed and ruin my seed quality together.

I would not mix lettuce and onions. The lettuce thrives at the same time as onions and shades out the onions from forming nice bulbs.

That's more on the "not" than "do," but I'd like to think of my experience as successful experiments in finding what plants are best kept separate.
 
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The book "Integrated Forest Gardening" has many good examples; in a way it is the focus of the book. Definitely temperate oriented.

"Fruit and Nut Guild" - Groundnut, Fennel, Spearmint, Ginkgo, Wild Ginger, Comfrey, Violet, Hardy Almond, Asian Pear, Raspberry, Fig, Caraway, Licorice
"Pawpaw Delight Guild" - Bush Cherry, Bush Apricot, Elderberry, Persimmon, Pawpaw, Yarrow, Comfrey, Red Clover, Wild Ginger, Tulip, Anise Hyssop, Dandelion, Feverfew, Oregano, Yucca, Rosemary, Horseradish
"Four Vines Guild" - Akebia quinata, Grape, Yellow Raspberry, Rose, Comfrey, Passionflower, st. John's Wort, Hollyhock, Mulberry, Schizandra, Bluebead Lily, Peppermint, White Clover, Sage, Spearmint, Mullein, Nasturtium
"Annual-Perennial Guild" - Blueberry, Comfrey, Dogwood, Chives, Parsley, Peppermint, Oregano, Thyme, Bamboo, Feverfew, Lemon Balm, Summer Savory, Basil, Strawberry, Calendula, Cayenne Pepper, Cilantro, Columbine, Sedum, Dandelion, White Clover, and Annual Crops
"Ginseng/Sugar Maple Polyculture Guild" - Sugar Maple, Sweet Annie, Jujube, Mulberry, Wild Licorice, Amur Corktree, Goldthread, American Hogpeanut, Sage, Akebia, Black Currant, Chinese Rhubarb, Pagoda Dogwood and I would assume Ginseng although they did not include it.

These are just a few of the 15 example Guilds they include in the book. As for educational material it's so so, kind of wordy making the same points over and over; but the details and associations are invaluable!
 
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Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Some nameless person who had no knowledge and too much money, decided a 40 acre "farm" needed a 4.5 acre lawn, and hired someone fresh out of a landscape design course.  Forty some odd years later, the family farm is now mine.  Except for the lawn, the last real work was done by me in high school (late 1970's).  The lawn was done maybe 5 tears after that.  No documentation exists for the lawn design.

Cutting 4.5 acres is a bit much, and I am going to repurpose much of the lawn area.  But, it is probably better to build from what is there, if I can.  All the treed areas, have that geotech fabric on them, now firmly intertwined with things like quack grass.  Grass from the lawn has long since invaded all the tree plantings.  If I can find a predicted rainy day, I have a 3 foot tall pile of local newspapers to distribute on some of the tree areas.  I am also trying to get horseradish growing in some.  My first attempt at horseradish, was planting in early spring (beginning of May), without any compost in the hole.  I am not seeing anything at the moment.   I bought some more horseradish root, and this attempt will add some compost to the holes.  I have comfrey growing elsewhere (only a 1 year old plant at the moment), and  was planning to ring tree plantings with comfrey once I got the grass problem under control in the tree plantings.

I found some suggestions for companion plants to lilac, which included a bunch of ornamentals that I see no use for.  Dwarf cherry and dogwood were listed.  A number of clubs were listed (I think daffodils were on that list).  I have 3 different locations on the lawn with lilac, the biggest one being a hedge about 16 plants long, situated on a change in slope in the lawn (steeper below the lilacs).  The line of this hedge, is not of constant elevation.  I had bought a bunch of Cornus Kousa 'Satomi' seeds from Oikos, and 8 seeds went into the centres of my first attempt to grow squash in a 40 year old fescue pasture.  I think they need a winter before they will germinate, so next year.  I probably have enough seeds to plant one of these dogwoods on the downhill side midway between lilacs.

I have a tractor coming (52hp), with FEL and some 3pt implements (box blade, tilt/angle blade, subsoiler).  I could make small swales which terminate near the lilac on the upper side.  I could plant small cherry (Evan's, Nanking, ...) on the swale berms above the lilac.  Some of the lilac are looking ragged (they are 40 ish year old), so t may be that some of these lilac should be replaced.

I could plant bulbs between the lilacs or otherwise central to the point between two lilacs.  On the uphill side, perhaps a person plants a radius of 3 sisters (corn/sunflower, squash, beans).

I've tried growing corn elsewhere on the property, and it is very windy here and the corn can take a beating.  This area on the uphill side of the lilac is more wind shielded than the other place was.  I have also been thinking of trying to grow the Gaspe flint corn which is dwarf.  Not much for a bean to climb, but if I alternate a taller sunflower with corn, that might work?

Once the grass is "tamed", I was thinking that this "guild area" get planted to white clover.

----

Deer issues - I have white tail and mule deer here, and moose.  Elk are in the region, I've never seen one.  While there are willow all over the farm, the moose really like eating the willow on the lawn.  I don't water the lawn or fertilize it; so other than the willow hedges being also carragana hedges; I don't know why they are particular about the willows on the lawn.  I also have various dogwood growing on  the farm, some in the lawn and more outside.  The deer and moose seem to graze all of that about equally.
 
Gordon Haverland
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Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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The hedge slightly higher in elevation to this one, is shorter.  It was probably intended to be alternating laurel leaf willow and caragana arbosescens, but they have both moved over the years.  So there are mostly overlapping regions of "control" between the two.  The downhill side is north (it is a north facing slope for the bulk of the farm).  There was too much "black topsoil" brought in for all of the lawn, and I believe in places where trees were planted the topsoil could be 3-4 feet deep.  In some places where lawn was planted, the applied topsoil could be minimal.  The underlying soil is mostly clay.

Someone had an idea about willow and blueberries, I don't know that the pH of the soil is low here.  I suppose a person could apply horticultural sulfur to lower the pH.


While many places mention that caragana arborescens can grow to 20 feet, it seldom gets beyond 10 feet.  I have in my cold frame, an assortment of caragana.  I think most of the caragana that are here now, were transplants from the Ag Canada research station at Beaverlodge.  I have a source of caragana arborescens from Nova Scotia, and I have another source from elsewhere (obtained from JL Hudson).  I have caragana microphylla (nominally to 8 feet, yellow flowers) and caragana rosea (3 feet, with pink flowers).  Maybe adding in 2 independent sources of caragana arborescens will help, as may the two smaller caragana.  I believe according to PFAF, only arborescens rates high on edibility.
 
Gordon Haverland
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A guild supposedly has a founder, and for the lilac the founder is probably as short as many of the members to be planted around it.

How does one expand a guild to a founder which is not "a point"?    In particular, a dense hedge.  (My lilac hedge is discrete points in a line, the blue honeysuckle hedge is a think line..)

I think Ag Canada/Beaverlodge stopped investigating blue honeysuckle as a plant for farms in about 1976.  I have 2 hedges of that plant here, and a single pairing (male and female plants in a single hole). on the farm.  And over the years, birds have done there thing, and so there are prodigy in the odd place here and there.

This blue honeysuckle is dense, and makes a good windbreak and snowbreak.  The berries are horrible.  I believe I have slightly less than 50% of both hedges alive this year; they weren't that bad last year.  Because of how quickly all the plants seem to be "dying", I suspect they are all clones, which would go to the berries always being horrible.

Maybe a decade after Ag Canada/Beaverlodge gave up on this blue honeysuckle, USaskatchewan started a related line of research, which begat the highly successful "haskap" (named for the Japanese cultivar).  The taste of the berries seems to be related to both the "male" and "female" sources.  So who knows how bad these blue honeysuckles from Ag Canada/Beaverlodge would be, it they had access to some of the more modern sources of pollen?   On the flipside, if a person has Ag Canada/Beaverlodge honeysuckles on the proeprty, will they make the haskap berries taste worse?

On the trip to look at a used tractor to buy (not yet arrived here), I stopped at DNA Gardens in the thriving metroplis of Elnora, AB (population, 298).  The groundskeeper has had experience with blue honeysuckle (probably not what Ag Canada/Beaverlodge ended up with), and said that coppicing the hedge would probably see it all grow back.  On the leeward side of the property, this might be fine.  Pollen probably won't travel westward from these plants on its own, but bees will do things.  The other hedge is set up against a stand of tall aspen, and it doesn't see much wind.  Again bees could do things.  About midway between the two, is what I think is a male/female pair planted in a single hole.  It is possible that that location is the only male plant on the property, and bees were carrying pollen upwind and downwind to the two hedges.  I just don't know.

Near the "pair", a couple of years ago I planted a Cosco special which was probably the popular haskap pair from USask 10 years ago.  No documentation.  This year would be the first year it would have fruit.  Maybe.  At DNA Gardens, I bought Boreal Beauty and Boreal Beast, the new best of breed from USask.  And they are planted not in the same hole, between 3 Evan's cherry seedlings from DNA Gardens (actually from some place in Manitoba).

The leeward hedge runs SW-NE.  In the summer, the downhill side is mostly in shade; and conversely the uphill side is mostly in sun.  The hedge is more or less 7-8 foot tall, and more than half dead by appearances.  I plan to start coppicing it from the west, but I won't take it all down.  I may take 1, 2 or 4 "trunks" down, and see what happens over the rest of the summer and into next spring.
 
Gordon Haverland
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Not directly related to anything posted immediately above by myself.

I have started visiting lists of companion crops.  I think that companion crops are typically either a species, or sometimes a genus.  I would think that if it is a species, it gets referred to in the singular; and for a genus in the plural.  Which ignores problems such as multiple subspecies.

Anyway, I am building a Perl program (who knows if it will get finished any time soon), which is based on the common English name (in ASCII) if available as a reference to hash.  In the hash is a hash of the classification (from Wikipedia) including synonyms (if any).  Then there are 3 lists (likes, dislikes and notes).  And most entries should also have a USDA nutrition hash, which includes among other things, how much of that plant is water.  This nutrition information should actually be a list of hashes, as some plants have multiple parts which can be used; and it is unlikely they all have the same composition.

There are some aspects of this I find puzzling.  One particular plant, had bush beans as a like and pole beans as a dislike.  Another plant dislike beets, but liked chard (chard is a beet).  I have no explanation for this.  One list, thought it important to note mutual help; and then only had a single entry where both sides of a "like" had benefit.

My thinking, is that this is a part of designing guilds.  I don't know if any companion lists get extended to trees (although it wouldn't surprise me if black walnut was a dislike on many lists).

I am just starting this, and I am already over 2000 lines of code just setting up the data (in Perl).

There is a CPAN module (Parse::USDASR) which can parse the USDA nutrition database (at least back in 2009), and an example program has it produce a SQLite version of the database.

Now, it may be that what I should do, is to produce a SQLite version of the USDA data, and then a SQLite version of the companion (and tree?) data; so that any resulting program isn't so darned long.  If I did that, I could use SQL statements to extract the subset of data I need for any particular query.

Question is, what does a person do with this?  Every body and their dog look for "APP"s now, and this is just an old fashioned command line program.  Are there programs or documentation out there, which go into how this should work?  Explain things like why bush beans and pole beans are different?

My thinking is that this is not a Builder, but a Guilder.  Well, there was a singer called Nick Gilder at Sweeney Todd a few years ago.  So, I thought I would just call this program ST.  Other ideas welcome.
 
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