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Staples under fruit trees?

 
Paula Edwards
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We are planning to plant fruit trees step by step, we are preparing the soil carefully.
That means we are building a bed or mound depending on the drainage with sticks, grass clippings etc.
I still want to have my compact vegetable garden,close to the house, and anyway who needs that much lettuces/carrots etc.
How about staples grown under fruit trees?
Most fruit trees don't like cultivation at their roots, so potatoes might not be a good idea. I read that fruit trees don't like grass either, so oats, barley etc. seems to be bad either (however there are millions of healthy fruit trees in suburbia surrounded by lawn). Corn might simply be too high or suck up to many nutrients. Dry beans seems to be good but you cannot grow beans year after year. Pumpkins  would be a choice too. Are garlic or onions a good companion to fruit trees?
As there is yet a species (the tree) would you go for a mixed planting (like three sisters) or rotate?

Annuals might have the advantage, that, at harvest time the ground is clear and you don't have to dance around bushes.
 
                          
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How about hops?
 
Paula Edwards
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You would trail the hops in the trees? Don't you slow the tree growth then?  And we need dwarf trees here to net them. How do you call hop a staple? We are certainly not antialcoholics but we're not so bad that we need hops as staples, or can we use the roots of the hops? Maybe sheep like hops too?
 
Gary Park
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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Depending on if you mind how it looks, you COULD plant potatoes, carrots, etc. under the trees--You would just use the old tires method or 5+ gallon bucket method.  That way there is no digging into the tree's roots, and any lost nutrients from the soil you would bring in for the potatoes, etc. would go right down to the tree roots.  It would save you some mulch around the trees too.
 
                    
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Location: Linköping, Sweden
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I have never tried this myself, but I have heard from multiple sources that garlic is an excellent companion crop for fruit trees. Garlic planted at the base of peach trees can repels borers and prevents leaf curl; when planted under apple trees, garlic protects against apple scab.
 
Paula Edwards
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If garlic works onions should work too. Garlic isn't exactly a staple (so are hops), but it is a crop you harvest once a year. And if you want to plant all your garlic you need quite some space as it sits there for ages. You need at least one better two onions  a day, so an average family would need between 365 and 500 onions a year.
As for the tyres they ripped them out at our school because it is not clear weather toxins leach out. And you're right, I don't like the look too.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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all of my fruit trees are grown in mixed beds..nothing here grows on it's own..

lawn isn't good, but most any other plant grows well under fruit trees, but I also agree, don't plant anything that needs a shovel to dig it up..under the root zone.

under mine i have perennial food and flower type plants as well as insectory and herb plants. Herbs are really wonderful as they bring in a lot of good insects and keep a lot of predators away.

under the shady large apple trees I have things like hostas, solomons seal, violets (edible), and other shade lovers..under my sunny pear trees I have daylillies, iris, comfrey, aegopodium, etc. and under my cherry trees I have hostas, daylillies, spireas, dwarf barberries, strawberries, etc. Under my smaller apple trees I have yarrow, multiplying onions, chives, lupines, etc. under the smaller pear trees in the back I have things like climbing roses, grapes (over an arbor by the pears), a hedge beside them of jerusalem artichokes, and there were tomato plants under them this summer..apricot has some dwarf bushes under it, peaches have all kinds of perenial flowers under them including siberian iris, daylillies, violets, pinks, roses, etc..

you can see some of my gardens in my blog below, every garden I have has some sort of fruit or nut trees growing in them
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
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Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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"Garlic isn't exactly a staple"

Ha! in this household, garlic is definitely a staple!

You might look at greens of various sorts. And asparagus. I'd plant a mix of things, and keep an eye on how well everything does in combination.
 
Paula Edwards
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So you eat a kilo of garlic a day? But still, if you count how much time the garlic needs to grow the fruit tree option seems to be good.
Who grows annual onions under fruit trees?
If lawn is not good for fruit trees how about grains?
Say grow your oats underneath?
 
                        
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Speaking out of the vast experience of  growing one hop vine  I would be very leery of growing hops around the fruit trees for a number of reasons, one being that the vines are very irritating to the skin which would make harvesting the fruit a penance.  Another is that hops are such a rambunctious vine I would be afraid of them killing the fruit trees, if only by swiping the nutrients for themselves.

If you have somewhere they can indulge their rampant growth they are enthusiastically  used for shelter for both insects and birds; and the hops can be used for things other than beer. One such example is that pillows made with hops stuffing  is supposed to be wonderful for people with insomnia. They also make an effective  and attractive  cover for a fence that you want to discourage people and others from pushing through/climbing over.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Onion grass always grew under the old apple tree in the backyard of its own accord, so I figure that could probably be extended to most alliums. 
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I grow perennial onions (Allium canadense) under fruit trees.  I recently planted walking onions and elephant garlic, both perennial, under apple trees.   
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Pam wrote:
Speaking out of the vast experience of  growing one hop vine  I would be very leery of growing hops around the fruit trees for a number of reasons, one being that the vines are very irritating to the skin which would make harvesting the fruit a penance.  Another is that hops are such a rambunctious vine I would be afraid of them killing the fruit trees, if only by swiping the nutrients for themselves.

If you have somewhere they can indulge their rampant growth they are enthusiastically  used for shelter for both insects and birds; and the hops can be used for things other than beer. One such example is that pillows made with hops stuffing  is supposed to be wonderful for people with insomnia. They also make an effective  and attractive  cover for a fence that you want to discourage people and others from pushing through/climbing over.


As for oats, it depends on why you are growing them. Is it for animal feed, human consumption, or straw? I am doing perennial onions, herbs/flowers and alfalfa. The alfalfa works great for nit fixing and chop and drop/ground cover. Id say that generally anything you have to dig up too much is not good around fruit trees. You could try lettuce and other greens that might benefit from the afternoon shade.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Intercropping between new fruit tree orchards, with declining yield over time as the trees increasingly dominate the rhizosphere, is common part of European agroforestry practice (based on teh book Temperate Agroforestry Systems)  Guild-style intercropping with mix of mulch and forage is more common among permies...
 
Paula Edwards
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lucerne would actually be a good option as it is a good fodder plant (my first attempt though was not as good, I let the lucerne flower and now the sheep don't like it, I think you must cut it young)
 
Karl Teceno
Posts: 91
Location: Portland Maine
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I have grown climbing peas by stringing grow nets behind the fruit trees. (dwarf trees)The peas even climbed into the fruit trees. I have also grown shorter peas and bush beans, all with great success.

Karl
 
Jason Long
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
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The fruit trees are my staples   
 
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