I am hoping that your experience will allow you to provide me with some awesome ideas for plants for each type, section/zone in the guild, and ultimately help me to tailor a resource that I can use to start from when building new guilds and or a need to tune things for my environment and or evolution of the guild as time progresses
Some basic information:
Planting Zone: 5/6 SE Michigan
Tree's to be guilded: apple & pear (not sure on types...)
So here is what I started to put together. I will refer to the sections in the guild as rings/zones moving away from the trunk
Totally perma-newb, this will be our first project, and I am totally excited! Thank you for any input and or pointers. Looking forward to getting my "grow-on"
Over the winter I have encouraged wild birds to do "chicken tractoring" in this guild and they have been doing a great job. I really need to attract more snakes though, as it looks like the slugs might be really bad this year (we have had tons of rain).
Also I have some native bee nesting tube bundles nearby, I think they do a lot of my pollination. I noticed some activity around the tubes on Saturday.
I have also heard people recommend nitrogen fixing shrubs..that would depend on the height of your fruit trees, if they are standard that might work well for you, however, if they are dwarf or semi dwarf there might not be enough room.
most nitrogen fixing shrubs do grow quite large, baptisia is another smallish one besides the lupine, but you could also consider a clover.
myself I have put a lot of dwarf or semi dwarf fruit trees in my food forest gardens, so I have used the shrubs more as a hedge or windbreak..not DIRECTLY under the fruit trees..
I have hedged 3 sides of my food garden area with shrubs of all kinds..the North I have American Wild Plums, Hazelnut and Mulberry, the West I have raspberry (several varieties) blackberry (2 kinds) buffalo berry, large fruited hawthorn and 2 sweet chestnut trees
and on the south i have blueberries, service berrries and juneberries..
this also gives food for insects and birds which will help to keep the diseases out of your garden.
Note about nitrogen realease: In a PDC course I took last year, we discussed whether coppicing/chopping was necessary for nitrogen release. Our instructor "argued" that because roots die during the natural cycles of plants, that nitrogen is still being released.. just not at the extreme rate coppicing might. Therefor, it's not actually necessary to coppice for nitrogen. One can also deduce that pruning will achieve this same effect.
I totally get that. Nature doesn't chop and drop However, I think there might be value in certain situations, i.e. geoff lawton's "Greening the Desert." But, I am personally in love with the idea of allowing Nature to do her dance for me, and all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the show, eat it up, and watch
I am now shifting towards having my guilds in patches based on the management strategy. I have chop and drop/carry areas, areas near trails where I am using mulch placement to cultivate target species, and areas where I cultivate nutrient/insectary plants where I don't want to chop, but do nibble both for flower harvest, and seasonal cutting. I think this will help me with labor efficiency and access.
This comes as I am working sites that are 100s of square feet, where I am trying to learn how to design sites that are 10's of 1000's of square feet. If you are neither creating bare spots with mulch where you introduce new species, using mulch placement to cultivate specific yielding species, nor choping with a larger tool like a scythe rather than a rice knife, then this may be moot.
I would add to the mix, and any planting mix, a mycorrhizal companion to the list. Mycogrow is from Paul Staments company but there are others.
Are you planting any of you companions from seed?
Also, I've always heard that fennel may inhibit the growth of nearby plants. I found this online when I googled 'fennel alleopathy'
"A good example of an allelopathic species is production of inhibitory chemicals by fennel. The roots of fennel plants produce a suite of chemicals which can reduce the root elongation, root hair growth and germination of neighbouring plants, like lettuce. This is an example of allelopathic exudation. "
Just go easy with it, try one plant and see how it affects the others.
I would also suggest narrowing your list a little bit so it is easier to keep track of the guild and see how the plants are interacting.
1). Lovage is a nice insectary and mulch plant. Grows like crazy. Multiple culinary uses and closely related to osha, a medicinal herb much esteemed in these parts.
2). One variety of bee balm, monarda menthifolia, is known in northern New Mexico as "oregano de la sierra." It is used in place of oregano in the local cuisine. Beautiful flowers. If you are looking for a bee balm with culinary uses this is a good pick.
I have seen Asparagus mentioned as a possibility: https://chriscondello.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/practical-permaculture-planting-under-fruit-trees-part-2/
This is a draft of what I plan for some cherry and pear trees: https://www.flickr.com/photos/128931519@N04/16233515948/in/photostream/lightbox/
Daffodils around the edge to suppress the grass, asparagus on the south side, then comfrey, horseradish, Yarrow, nasturtium and borage on the North side.
Thoughts? Has anyone actually tried Asparagus? It's quite drought tolerant so it might be worth a go?
(The trees will be next to an eleagnus hedge, so I'm not too worried about including Nitrogen fixers for the trees, I'll feed the Asparagus separately)