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Plum and Pear guilds?

 
Jason Pitzer
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Need some idea for pear and plum guilds! I am in z6a-z5b any help would be appreciated!
 
John Saltveit
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Plums need more well drained soil than pears, so that can tilt your preference a bit. I like to put small flower bulbs around the dripline, like daffodils, crocus,a nd tulips. Also I think honey berry is a great plant to put between trees, as they don't need that much sun. Also currants and gooseberries, also not related, don't need so much sun, not so big. I also put green leafy self-seeding and perennial vegetables between, like curly mallow, turnip greens, black salsify, sow thistle, dandelion. And a little comfrey never hurts.
JohNS
PDX OR
 
Henry Jabel
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In forest gardening Robert Hart mentions in the West Country plums were traditionally planted with blackcurrants. I have planted some chuckleberries a new blackcurrant/jostaberry cross under mine but its early days.

Also don't forget fungi, saphrotic fungi innoculated into wood chips, etc under the tree is going to help breakdown mulch into soil.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The most important things to remember about fruit trees when you are formulating guilds are; 1) Fruit trees need to be free of understory to 3' from the trunk, mulch is the best thing you can put in this close to the trunk space. It does allow mycelium to thrive there.
2) Once you have the close to the trunk space mulched, from that point outward, you can plant just about anything. I like to use things like kale, any of the legumes, squash,
strawberries, etc.
3) Usually it is best to start from the mulch ring with shorter plants and increase the size of plants as you get further from the trunk.
4) Don't forget that you will want to be able to get to all the plants as well as the tree for harvesting, I like to have a single path or radial paths with the tree trunk as the hub.

Most Fruit trees will have similar requirements for soil PH, nutrients, water.
The mulch ring keeps things from being in direct competition with the tree's roots while it is growing up.
Once a tree is very well established, keeping the trunk mulch ring in place, helps protect the tree from diseases and insect damage.
 
Peter Ellis
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The most important things to remember about fruit trees when you are formulating guilds are; 1) Fruit trees need to be free of understory to 3' from the trunk, mulch is the best thing you can put in this close to the trunk space. It does allow mycelium to thrive there.
2) Once you have the close to the trunk space mulched, from that point outward, you can plant just about anything. I like to use things like kale, any of the legumes, squash,
strawberries, etc.
3) Usually it is best to start from the mulch ring with shorter plants and increase the size of plants as you get further from the trunk.
4) Don't forget that you will want to be able to get to all the plants as well as the tree for harvesting, I like to have a single path or radial paths with the tree trunk as the hub.

Most Fruit trees will have similar requirements for soil PH, nutrients, water.
The mulch ring keeps things from being in direct competition with the tree's roots while it is growing up.
Once a tree is very well established, keeping the trunk mulch ring in place, helps protect the tree from diseases and insect damage.


Reading this it struck me - "keyhole Orchard"
 
Patrick Mann
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Personally, I no longer plant annuals anywhere within the drip line to avoid disturbing the root zone - it goes a lot further than 3', even for dwarfed trees. I think perennials are the way to go.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Once a tree is well established, the roots near the trunk don't have so many feeder roots, the ones that pick up nutrients from the soil, those move out to the drip line and beyond. I plant around my trees, using straw bales for the other plantings, these break down in about three years, forming a nice compost that provided us food. This compost is just spread out among the orchard, then new bales are brought in and seasoned for planting. By using this method, none of the orchard trees are put into a competition mode with the other food plants. If your orchard trees are spaced properly, then there will be a 4 foot pathway, where roots aren't going to spread to until the trees are near full maturity. This can be utilized or not, depending on personal ideas. I space my orchards so that the mature trees branches will not come in physical contact with any other orchard tree's branch tips. This makes it easy to harvest without risking damage to the tender branch tips, it also give me space for the straw bales where I grow other edibles, as mentioned above, the bales insure that these edibles are not in competition with the orchard trees root systems.

In the Walnut orchards, you will only find grass, used for ground cover around the orchard trees. This is because they are most interested in the nuts and being able to move the harvesting machinery from tree to tree.

In a Homestead situation, it makes more sense to me to utilize the blank space for producing other food stuffs that way I feel that I am making full use of the land I have available for growing vegetables, fruit and feed for the animals. The areas on Buzzard's Roost that are orchards are fenced so that unwanted critters can't get to them easily. I have feed plots for the deer, wild turkey, wild rabbits, doves and other birds. These are located away from our food growing areas and along the natural pathways these animals use as they travel across our land. So far, they have worked quiet well and we have increases in the number of deer and other animals that come across our land. Since I utilize these wild animals for some of our meat, it works to everyone's advantage. The wild animals have food available all year long. We can harvest a deer or turkey when we need one and leave them to themselves the rest of the time.

On our land, I only use a bow for hunting, and I don't hunt near the feed plots, I also don't gut any animal that has given it's life so we can eat where it goes to the spirit world. I bring them to the enclosed butchering area, where all animals we raise for food are processed, I do this so no creature sees another be processed for our use. No part of any animal goes to waste, everything is used in some way to benefit us, and honor the animal. This is the way I was raised, to waste any part of any animal that gave it's life to me so I can flourish would be unacceptable to Wakantanka, and to me. I always thank every thing, animal or vegetable for the gift of life.
 
John Saltveit
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Hey Bryant,
I like your philosophy of giving and taking, or sharing with the animal kingdom.

The continual use of mulch into compost will ensure the diverse microbiome that the plants we need can use to thrive.

I have a suburban food forest, so I don't have the luxury of acres to plant in and 4 foot paths between trees. I plant densely, just like nature. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to grow most of what I grow. I do try to interplant unrelated species from different families. I don't plant seeds between them , but I harvest many weeds and self-sowing leafy greens. They decide where they want to grow. I sometimes harvest areas that are too dense.

With less space, you have to plan and use it more intensely.
John S
PDX OR
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Hau, John, Thank you for the kind words. I agree with you that everything can be planted densely. Most of our gardens are so dense that my conventional gardener wife thought they would not produce very well. She saw from last year, that dense, multi-layer plantings of food crops does indeed work with out a drop in quality or quantity. I like to plant so densely that harvesting baby vegies serves to thin the crops.

Our orchard is currently in the development stage, we will be adding dwarf trees between the full size orchard trees, effectively reducing the spacing. I use straw bales for between plants because it works out really well for us.
As long as everything gets the amount of sunlight it needs to thrive, all is well.

It sounds to me like you are making best use of all the land you have. This is the prime premise of permaculture to my mind.

I am developing a north (sun facing) slope for grapes, and other things. Currently the swales and berms are going in, it should take another year to get those done with the current building work load. Our overall plan is to be able to not need a grocery store for food. We also are trying to get situated so we will be totally solar/wind powered. The hugel type growing mounds we make are working well at holding water for the plants we grow on them, didn't need to water once last season.
 
Peter Ellis
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With all the fascinating research into the soil food Web and the extent to which it has shown that in healthy soil (most) plants are mutually supportive, not competing for nutrients , I am surprised at how much we still speak of plant competition in the root zone.
Obviously some alleopathic plants would suggest otherwise, but even they play well with some others.
Interestingly, brassica appear to be losers in mycorhizal relationships.
This might suggest not planting kale in food forests. Or it may help explain why kale may be performing differently in different locations.
 
John Saltveit
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In general, I agree with what you're saying Peter. I also like how you open up the possibility of new ways or methods of growing kale. Here is an interesting possible exception to what you said. One frequent historical anecdote from Hungary and the United States is that King Stropharia mushrooms grow well with corn in an association that seems to help both grow better. One of Paul Stamet's interns did some detailed research on the interaction of fungi with vegetables. They did detailed experiments with many types of fungi and vegetables in raised beds. Brassica crops did much better when grown with the white elm oyster (Hypsizygus Ulmarius), and so did the fungi. ALthough this is not yet established scientific findings, they are promising results that may show ways of benefically combining fungi and vegetables. Probably someone will follow up and check to see if that can really be established.
John S
PDX OR
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Very good points Peter. We discovered an odd strain (for our property) of fungus growing in a few straw bales, these particular bales grow really good kales. I am waiting for the spawn to fruit so I can identify the fungus. I'm also using this opportunity to convince my wife that I need a microscope for the farm. These particular bales will be planted this year with several of the Brassica family and I will be keeping notes on how things go.

Good information John, I will be getting some different spawns this year and am going to give the Hypsizygus Ulmarius a go. Currently we have about 7 different strains of mycorhizal fungi growing on the farm. I'm still doing research on which goes best with what. This is the kind of scientific studies that will be most helpful to everyone in the long run.
 
David Goodman
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Good info, Bryant.
 
Sharon LaPlante
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I have never done a fruit tree guild so this is all new to me and I can't wait to try it. Can the tree be used for a trellis for ... say the squash or beans ... or do you let them trail on the ground? I use trees and shrubs as natural trellises for native clematis, scarlet morning glory, and milk pea, but they don't smother the foliage because they are rather small in stature compared to squash or beans.

 
John Saltveit
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I do more planting of vegies between trees than under them, as Bryant said, and I grow mostly self-seeding and weedy leafy greens. I don't think many use the tree as an actual trellis for conventional vegetables. It's trying to fit too many things into places where they aren't quite right. I do grow some vines on the outside edge of trees, like honeysuckle vines and kiwis. Conventional vegetables are too finicky for that in my opinion. Weedy greens haven't had all the nutrition bred out of them. The other nice thing about edible weeds is that they grow like .......... weeds.
John S
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Sharon LaPlante
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thanks john. you may be surprised at how things turn out. i'd say it's better to have too many than not enough. maybe one of those things you planted too close will be just the right fit. sometimes happy accidents make the best solutions.

would okinawan spinach do well as a weedy leafy green? i bought some seedlings and was hoping to use it like that ... in between and at the base of some trees. what sort of weedy greens do you grow ... and can they be grown in florida? i saw someone on ebay selling 'sandypants broccoli' never heard of it, but it looks like a wild mustard, but that may need more sun than where i want to plant it.

i was looking at kiwi vines the other day at walmart, but i am afraid we don't have enough chill hours for them here. the label said 400 chill hours, but i think i read somewhere that there are low chill varieties. i was lucky to find some low chill pears and plums this year from a woman on craigslist who grows them in gainesville and delivers to my area for free. i've never been able to find anyone local that has any. i am so disgusted with my local stores carrying things that don't grow well here when there are varieties that will.
 
Charles Tarnard
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My pears have strawberry, asparagus, fennel, sunflowers, borage, chard, rhubarb, and dandelion all in pretty close proximity to each other doing really well. All the perennials are new (within the last two to three years). The pear was planted into grass and the next season I covered the whole area with finished compost.

My plum is paired with onions, tulips, and blueberries and has not ever done as well. The plum was planted into grass and the area was covered with paper then wood chips. The wood chips have mostly mulched down, and the plum is fruiting now, but nothing else is doing great.

Anecdotal evidence for the win.
 
Sharon LaPlante
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Location: Brooksville, Florida - Zone 9a
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wow charles ... i would say that more is better! your pear guild sounds fabulous!
 
Charles Tarnard
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It's pretty sweet . It's hard to know how much of that success is due to the compost vs. the guild. Although I've noticed that most any area around my yard that gets dappled shade is pretty happy. My plum hasn't always provided a ton of shade to its guild, which I think causes those to struggle more than some other areas.

Again, I'm just making stuff up based on only a few years of experience. It's probably all untrue .
 
Sharon LaPlante
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lol ... experience is all we need. don't knock it if it works.

dappled shade has always done best for me. fellow, traditional, gardeners always tell me it won't work ... you can't grow anything worth while in dappled shade ... but it works great for me. my fruit trees love the dappled shade of my huge live oaks. about the only thing i can keep alive in full sun are natives that can handle the harshness. thankfully most of my property is dappled shade and things i grow are lush and usually don't need water unless we get a long dry spell. i don't have much experience with perennial vegetable gardening, but i think it's going to be insanely fun trying things out!
 
Charles Tarnard
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I should clarify that anything around 5 feet tall or taller can deal with the sun, but anything shorter than three feet seems to be living the high life in some shade. It's like many of them adapted to being short and making the most of it or something.
 
John Saltveit
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Florida sun and Portland sun are two different things also. In nature, very few plants get full sun. To paraphrase Paul Wheaton , in a polyculture the roots and the soil let the plants help each other.
John S
PDX OR
 
Adam Klaus
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Under my fruit trees I planted horseradish, elecampane, rhubarb, comfrey, lupine, and yarrow.

Good mix of large leaves to shade the soil, taproots, beneficial insect attractants, and N-fixing.

I don't have access to mulch, so I use large leaf plants, chop and drop, to fulfill that function.

Plus all of these plants (except the lupine) and extremely useful for making plant medicine.

good luck!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Nice variety Adam, I had not thought of horseradish, I'll have to do that around some of our orchard tress. Great hint there with using broad leaf plants instead of mulch too. When you chop and drop them, instant mulch!

I just got through with a chop and drop around our blueberries, I grow scarlet clover around them so they get a nice N boost when I do the C&D.
 
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