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Fruit tree to plant in a shaded forest?

 
Ben Wingerter
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I have a small bit of land that is a forest of walnut trees. It had a dry floodplain in which I would like to apply some permaculture principles and plant some fruit trees. The only problem is that I can't find a fruit tree that it suitable for the environment. It is a shaded area that receives a little sunlight every day. I would prefer not to cut down any of the walnut trees because I love trees . The soil is dark, rich, and moist. I live in the American midwest so I have cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers. We have lots of rain in the spring but not very much in the late summer, but I will still be able to irrigate using rain catchment systems I have planned. Does anyone know of a fruit tree or fruit shrub that can grow in this environment? Thanks in advance for any replies!
 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 365
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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duck food preservation solar trees
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Sounds like your area should be good for Pawpaw - seedlings are probably the way to go. Missouri conservation and other conservation districts have these along with LaywerBursery and some other wholesale seedling suppliers.
Persimmon may find a niche if you have a wetter sunnier spot.
Also plan for typical currants and gooseberries!

 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 233
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Ben,

I once rented an old farmhouse on an acre that had not been cared for in many many years. A corporation was waiting for the right time to bulldoze and sub divide. It has a stand of mature cedar trees that had been planted as a privacy screen, too close when young and never thinned. They were so close together and thick that I never knew there was an Italian Plum tree that had somehow crawled up though to a little patch of morning sun. My dog found it actually. I was curious what she was doing one day when she would not come out of the trees. I pushed my way through from the west side and found dozens of pounds of small black plums on the ground and dozens more still in the tree.

I say this because my journey in permaculture is teaching me to question what all the conventional wisdom says. Often what is stated is 'ideal conditions' or textbook knowledge. Some of it is correct. A lot of it discounts natures resiliency. Just like that little plum tree, nature fights hard. That whole acre had mature fruit trees that produced apples, cherries, plums, blueberries, and a few other things in the heavy shade of Old growth Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars. By the text book none of those trees should have established or produced. I would say plant a few varieties of your favorites and give them a chance. You never know.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I was going to say pawpaw but it has already been said. my land has a lot of shade and my fig trees, apple trees, pomegranates and plums are all doing ok. they are all very young and I have not gotten any fruit yet but they are doing better than I would expect without full sun. I try and place them with as much sun as I can find though.

I am wondering how much jugulone the walnut trees on your property put into the soil and if perhaps you need to be looking at plants that will do well with jugulone?
 
Ben Wingerter
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Thanks everyone! I've never heard of pawpaw before. I just did some research and it looks like they should grow well in my area. I'll order some seeds as soon as possible and plant them. The only thing I'm worried about is too much water. I read that they should live in well drained soil, but I already built a pond about 30 away from where they'll grow and I have another pond planned about 20 feet in the other direction. Oh well. It's worth a try. Yesterday I extracted 12 apple seeds from apples and put them in the fridge for germination. I'll probably plant them back there. Apple seeds aren't supposed to grow in shade, but maybe they'll defy the conventional wisdom and thrive just like that plum tree did.
 
Benny Lawson
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I would like to point out that walnut trees emit a poison through their roots to stop competiton , it is called juglone. Thats why they have all that nice open area around them.
 
Ben Wingerter
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Benny Lawson wrote:I would like to point out that walnut trees emit a poison through their roots to stop competiton , it is called juglone. Thats why they have all that nice open area around them.


I just checked and it appears pawpaw trees are tolerant to juglone.
 
Roger Taylor
Posts: 100
Location: New Zealand
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Benny Lawson wrote:I would like to point out that walnut trees emit a poison through their roots to stop competiton , it is called juglone. Thats why they have all that nice open area around them.

Isn't that mainly black walnut?

I have a walnut with a raised bed underneath. The leaves and branches fall onto the raised bed as mulch, and the roots are coming up underneath the raised bed, and I often dig through them when I dig holes in the raised bed for some reason or another. Things grow in it just fine. There are also tonnes of vigourous hostas, my best ones, underneath it. As well as foxglove, and an apricot tree right beside it.
 
Kris schulenburg
Posts: 112
Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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The plants Toby Hemenway (gaia's garden) recommends elderberry, mulberry, hackberry shrub, eleoengus, wolfberry, current, tomato and peppers for walnut guilds.
It might be worth reading what all he has to say about walnuts.
Gray twig dogwoods grow right against walnuts in the pasture, I am going to try cornelian cherries incase all dogwoods tolerate juglone. Will plant more pawpaw's too.
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
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Location: Richmond, Utah
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I have a lot of plants beneath black and english walnuts that do great. Nanking Cherry, sumac and day lily haven't been listed yet.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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