Hi everyone! A friend of mine is growing the plants listed below on about 2.5 acres and he wants help making the trees more productive and more pest resistant. I suggested doing some support plants around, but I'm not sure what kinds of things would grow well. He's 74 years old and it'll have to be stuff that would be easy to maintain, minimize weevils and other parasitic insects and be safe for the grandkids runnin around. Thanks in advance!
plums (black knot disease)
persimmons, asian, a lot
quince, dark spots
che fruit goji berries
That's a healthy list of plants already! What's the climate in his area? If I were in this situation I would use clovers, birdsfoot trefoil, alliums, and dandelion/chicory as ground covers. Russian comfrey would make a nice "chop and drop" companion since it's less likely to take over your entire orchard than standard comfrey. It's not very scientific, but I would choose a bunch of herbs and wildflowers to spread across the space you have left. It might be best to avoid things like mint and catnip that will overtake everything else even in full shade.
As far as pest control goes the goal in companion planting is really to complete an ecosystem where all pests are surrounded by their natural predators. If you have various plants of various heights all mingling among your trees and shrubs, you will accomplish just that. Having different flowers that bloom throughout the year will help with pollination, too. Unless you're growing vegetables or only a few tree guilds it isn't necessary to carefully pick out which species generally repel specific pests.
There are thousands of beneficial combinations available.
For a simple, "1-size-fits-all" solution, I say a regional wildflower mixture would do most of what needs to be done.
Almost any Wildflower vendor on the internet offers 1 pound packs of regionally selected native wildflowers for about $30. These are native to your region, and hence usually thrive with natural conditions. If it does not normally rain in your region during the growing season, then these plants should do fine without watering - they grow wild there (with no intervention). These same wildflowers supply both food and habitat for the natural pollinators as well as other beneficial insects.
Most of these mixes are a combination of perennials, and annuals. With ZERO attention, the annuals will reseed themselves each autumn. So, these flowers should turn into a perpetual beauty spot on the map.
I would say that for 2 1/2 acres, 3 pounds of seeds would convert his entire yard into a beautiful meadow that took care of itself while assisting the fruit/nut trees. That same 3 pounds would attract enough pollinators to increase fruit production through better pollination, and it is also helping to balance the natural insect populations, thus reducing disease vectors.
The beauty alone would make this a great companion. All of these other benefits are merely icing on the cake.
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