I've read about apple tree guilds online and in books, but I don't remember hearing at what age or time period after transplanting small trees the other guild associates should be planted. Is it best after planting the tree to just mulch an area around it and let it grow in a competition free environment before constructing the rest of the guild? When planting members of the guild, do I plant for the current drip line of the tree, or the future drip line based on estimated growth. Any other tips for proper transplanting of apple trees welcome. Thanks
Let me first say that I'm certainly no expert but I have a little bit of experience planting guilds under mature as well as young apple trees. So take this with as many grains of salt as you'd like.
I think you can plant an apple tree guild at any time, even when its young and freshly planted. There are a few things to take into account:
-the eventual diameter of the trees trunk -are any plants in the guild going to take over and smother the feeder root zone ( the shallow areas of soil within a few feet of the trunk) before the apple can establish roots there? -if you're planting vine crops with intent to use the tree as a trellis, will the vine be too aggressive and damage or block too much light from the apple tree branches?
I'm not sure about the dripline issue. I would think that if you're talking a long standing perennial like a berry bush, you'd want to plant it in the eventual dripline. But if you're planting something that will peak in yield after a few years like a globe artichoke, or something that can be easily moved like a walking onion, you could probably plant under the existing dripline.
well i'm in the process of doing it all again for some new apple trees, and i started out even before the apple trees arrived with some peas for nitrogen fixing..the hole for the tree will be dug tomorrow, and the pea vines might get a little trampled..oh well..such is life..i'll be careful..i have already planned the beds.
one of the beds already has its apple tree and peas (they did fine) but the others apples arrived today.
I also have put allium family along the farthest edges of the dripline of the beds, chives, multiplying onions and green onions..
so far that is all that has gone into the beds..as the apples have been slow in coming.
the rest of the guild will go in a bit at a time as i'm able to get it in.
i always figure you can put things in the root area that don't have to be pulled and that aren't permanent, the first few years..to add humus and also to hold the soil and cover..mulch should be kept a few inches from the trunk of the baby trees to prevent mouse damage..at least here they would..and trunk protections.
i like peas and beans as they feed the tree, but you also can put in some long rooted plants to dig deep for nutrients, just remember if you are going to pull them, have them back away from the root zone a tad ..this will provide the deep nutrients for the early going of the baby roots.
esp if you let them rot in place.
herbs are wonderful esp the umbel types nearby, i have caraway, fennel, anise, carrots, etc near my apples trees, they draw in the good insects, beneficials
a quick ground cover for your first year woudl be cut and come again greens like lettuces and spinach with the peas or beans..they will cause very little soil disturbance..and give you a fast cover ..but whatever you plan on having in your guild you likely already know..just think..future..when you are placing anything permanent..and as was said above..no vines up the baby tree..ok...i had a full size hemlock killed by a vine..so be careful and know your vine, and your tree.
Bloom where you are planted.
I would recommend planting your guild right away, regardless of the age of the tree. A young tree will definitely benefit from dynamic accumulators especially(comfrey,yarrow,chicory,etc.). You have to consider that the tree will have different needs through different stages of it's life. For instance, a young tree is mainly concerned about growing a strong healthy root system, so a good dosage of potash would be important. Where nitrogen, which will encourage shoot growth will not be AS necessary in the early years. Likewise, the young tree will not be producing fruit for a few years, so pest control(besides leaf eating pests) will not be a main concern if there is no fruit. Therefore nectary plants which attract predatory insects would not be your number 1 priority. I would say that the main needs for your young tree would be soil moisture(mulch!), nutrients for healthy root growth, and weed control. However, if you have the time, money, and will then the initial investment of planting 'it all' would be a wonderful choice. Happy forest gardening!
I want to piggy back a question or two on this thread if you all don't mind.
When planting a fruit tree guild from scratch, I agree that planting it all right away should be no problem for the tree and in fact, aid the tree's growth. Regarding placement of bulbs and such, I would place to the estimated mature dripline, not the baby first/second year dripline.
Questions: When planting the tree and its guild, does one sheet mulch around the tree mature dripline circumference? If so, should one plant everything onto the sheet mulch/straw? Or is it best to plant into the existing grass/soil and cover with mulch?
Also, have any of you with experience planted any of these guilds from seed (other than the tree)? Or are all the helping plants started and growing?
http://www.permacultureportal.com/network_resources.html Guild Planting: By organizing plantings into guilds where each plant included will provide benefits for the other plants, one can create incredibly productive food forests and help to establish perennial systems more quickly & efficiently.
It's not when to plant the guild, the question should be how will the guild change over time. The plants the apple needs when it is a twig in the ground is different than what it will need when mature. Plant N-fixers and grass suppressers now. Maybe plant some berry bushes or cane fruit or strawberries now even though they will eventually get shaded out. No point in wasting the land for years waiting for the apple tree to grow. If your soil is hard, plant taprooted plants to break it up. Daikon, burdock, chickory come to mind.
Plant it all right away! The best laid plans will....so in the event something dies, you can replant it again.
Also the whole idea of inter-plantings or 'guilds' is not to create competitions but to create mutually beneficial plant/insect/bird/tree relationships. For example, a planting of peas or beans around your tree will add nitrogen to the soil and the tree provides a scaffold for a place the beans can grow. Also the bean foliage can protect a young tree from getting too much sun. Mix in a few sunflowers to create biomass and perhaps a dill plant to attract beneficial insects, now we are off and running.
is it ok to plant white dutch clover around young apple tree as ground cover? then chop (well pull it out) and mulch it every so often? or is that disturbing the soil to much? also i transplanted a plum tree and then to comfrey plant popped up with in inches beside it is that ok? thank you for your time.
Permaculture isn't that hard to understand. Sometimes a little bump helps: richsoil.com/cards