Win a copy of Mudgirls Manifesto this week in the Natural Building forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Is it ok to plant vegetables under fruit trees?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 68
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I hate having to choose between planting one or the other, because of limited space. I mean leafy things like spinach and lettuce under apple and plum trees. It' some of the vegetables don't grow as big but I don't want the trees to suffer.

In the worst case I suppose I'd have to resort to herbs, but I'd rather more diverse vegetables.
 
gardener
Posts: 1670
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
165
forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Not only is it possible,  it's one of the first thing I point out in my front garden.  Right now I have very healthy swiss chard, parsley, perrenial onions, artichokes, and rather bug eaten kale.  I am sure this varies by climate and latitude,  but here in Texas all of these benefit from shelter in the heat of summer.  Even the kale (which is more of a winter crop for me) will produce well after fall frosts stop the cabbage moths. 

Remember that plants that produce fruit, seed, or root crops probably need more sun, but leafy greens are perfect.   The onions get around this by being a winter plant.  Right now they are getting ready to go dormant for the summer.   After leaf fall, when temperatures cool again, these will reappear. I may transplant some saffron, which has similar timing, to the same area this fall. It surves but still isn't thriving where it is now.
 
pollinator
Posts: 348
Location: 6a
46
dog forest garden hugelkultur trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tim Kivi wrote:I hate having to choose between planting one or the other, because of limited space. I mean leafy things like spinach and lettuce under apple and plum trees. It' some of the vegetables don't grow as big but I don't want the trees to suffer.

In the worst case I suppose I'd have to resort to herbs, but I'd rather more diverse vegetables.



I haven't planted spinach but I plant onions, sunchoke and small berry bushes, mint, bush beans, annual and perennial flowers under my apples.  Also, each tree has at least one comfrey plant under it.  I know the back to Eden people plant potatoes under apple trees and just leave the

biggest potatoes under the tree.   The only issue I have had is not planning for the height and sun needs of plants around the trees.  With all this planting my trees actually look healthier and it's a good way to get beneficials on-site.  If I have extra vege seeds I throw them in proximity to

a nitrogen fixer or a fruiting tree or bush.    I would not worry one bit about harming your trees.

I have found that the more I plant around my trees the better they do. 
 
Tim Kivi
Posts: 68
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is what's so intriguing about permaculture. All gardening sources say that they'll compete for nutrients and harm each other. Yet permits experience the opposite.

By under the trees I mean right in the soil, not in pots or anything like that.
 
Posts: 1154
59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I read that a lot when using university resources. "Competes for nutrients". Water is the main thing needed with new trees. Its a reasonable conclusion that the annuals need water more often than trees. The trees will benefit from this additional water.
 
Posts: 853
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Potatoes under apple trees (in a cool climate)
 
pollinator
Posts: 1820
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
42
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I planted under my peach bush, but nothing has survived there ,due to lack of light.
Else where I have recently noticed a 8' walnut sapling growing 6" from my 20' pear tree.
I'm not sure how I missed it before!
 
garden master
Posts: 4328
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
460
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Tim Kivi wrote:This is what's so intriguing about permaculture. All gardening sources say that they'll compete for nutrients and harm each other. Yet permits experience the opposite.

By under the trees I mean right in the soil, not in pots or anything like that.



Most of the "Gardening books" are based on "traditional agricultural practices" (that means modern farming methods).
Knowing this, let's take a look at the roots and that rhizosphere (root zone).
Most trees have stabilizing roots that spread out from the tree in a "wagon wheel" (main roots are like the spokes, the drip line is the inside of the rim the root termination is the outside of the rim).
Tree feeder roots come out from the main roots, branching off to smaller and smaller roots and let us not forget that trees are highly fungal oriented so there should be a good fungal network in their soil.

You can grow anything but root vegetables near any tree that isn't allopathic to those plants.
Most vegetables will increase(through exudates) the bacterial numbers and also make use of the fungi for nutrient needs.
What this means to us is that we might actually be making life better for the trees when we plant vegetables under their canopy.

The reasoning is; trees are fungal in nature, bacteria are food for fungi, bacteria are also providers of nutrients for vegetables, vegetables under trees add to the root mass and depth of root mass, creating better water infiltration along root paths,
more free nutrients (called for by the vegetables exudates) are provided to the tree and some will be different (micro nutrients) which will help fortify the tree as well as feed the vegetables, which will gather up some of those nutrients the tree calls for, making a better symbiosis and better nutrient density environment for both tree and vegetables.

Planting vegetables in the soil under a tree is not going to kill the tree or stunt it. If there is a worry about harming tree roots, using a simple open bottom raised bed under the trees will take care of that worry.

Redhawk
 
Posts: 209
Location: SF Bay Area
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would say that it depends on the tree as well. I had a fig tree, full grown, roots tended to be shallow, couldn't really plant too near it, not enough free space to dig. So I put in a raised bed, it was shaded so I planted lettuce, spinach etc. Well, the fig tree loved the nutrient rich soil in the bed and so the bed became filled with fig tree roots. Just my experience.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 4328
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
460
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting purity
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is one of the things about trees, their roots have specific depths that they do best at.
Installing a raised bed can cause the tree roots to extend up into the bed because the roots sense that they are too deep in the soil, this causes them to head towards the surface.
 
Posts: 311
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9, 60" rain/yr,
22
dog duck hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It really depends on the tree species, but vining plants naturally climb on trees. Or if you went with an edible leafed white mulberry for example, you could get high protein greens on the tree itself. Grapes and fruit trees can produce together, with the grapes pulling up deep nutrients and water beyond the reach of many shallow feederroots of fruit trees. Kiwis also like the shade of a tree on their base to protect from sun scald and will reach for full sun by climbing the canopy, but could possibly become so heavy bearing as to bring down prnaches and limbs. Blueberries naturally grow at the foot of conifers as well.
 
Posts: 203
Location: SW PA USA
12
trees
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I planted near a peach tree and also between s young peach and apple tree. The tomato I planted near the peach never did well and finally withered away. I had a cucumber near the other peach tree on the fence. I figured the cuke would climb the fence and grow away from the peach. Instead it ignored the fence, grew across the ground and up the young peach. The peach bloomed last year for the first time, but never produced a peach. However it did produce a half dozen cucumbers. I called it the cuke tree.
 
Tim Kivi
Posts: 68
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've now planted a few random plants next to the young apple trees: mint, lettuce, agapanthus, nasturtium, and will soon add more. I'm also adding food scraps around them and covering it with dead leaves, which quickly brings in worms and crickets to bring further life to the soil.
 
gardener
Posts: 7223
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
377
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One issue that I can see when establishing young trees, is that they might tend to become shallow rooted, if they are grown in conjunction with vegetables that require regular watering. In this circumstance I would prefer to plant garlic or herbs that thrive in dry conditions, so that the vegetables only get watered, when the tree gets a deep watering. Well established trees already have deep roots, depending on species, so they are less likely to be harmed.

We have a tree called Gary Oak. They usually live a very long time if left to their own, in our environment that is quite wet in the winter,  with almost no rain through the summer. Sometimes people have decided that they need to have a totally green carpet of grass during drought conditions. So they water this grass regularly. This has caused root rot and fungal conditions not favorable to the Oak. Some have died.
 
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
147
bike books forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur kids trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You might also check out some of the native edibles in your area. If you live in an area that would naturally be forested there are likely shade loving native plants and some may be edible.

For example here in the Pacific Northwest on the west coast we have Pacific waterleaf, miners lettuce, woodland strawberry, coastal gooseberry, and several others that are edible, native and shade loving.

I also have more traditional vegetables growing under my trees but I like including the native ones too. Let's me add more diversity, support local wildlife, and they tend to be very low maintenance.

Plus to me it makes my fruit trees look like they "fit" with the surrounding environment as opposed to being separate.

I'm also looking into non-native perennial vegetables to add under my trees. There is a perennial bush kale that I'm really interested in trying out next year.
 
Posts: 391
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i plant shallow rooted berry bushes like low bush blueberry. arctic raspberries and lingonberry under my apple trees and hazelnut  bushes. i plant mostly on the south side of them tho. as the north side gets shaded out up here.
 
Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly first. Just look at this tiny ad:
2018 need a rental/event manager for great pay
https://permies.com/t/50293/permaculture-projects/rental-event-manager-great-pay
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!