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Potential tree guild: apple/fruit, hazel, locust?

 
Posts: 69
Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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As I plot and scheme all the ways I can help trees take over the world, I am excited about the principle of Nuclei That Merge and seeing something reminiscent of that in the Permaculture Orchard film. Basically it comes down to guilds that act as good neighbors (and as good fences in some ways, e.g. horizontal diversity acting as pest control). This got me brainstorming and I wonder:

Can I make a guild of apple, hazelnut, and black locust? Or substitute apple for other fruits like pear or currants or mulberry, and black locust for some other kind of locusts like honey locust? I envision them going together as a cluster of 3, planted just ~5' apart from one another so they form a miniature closed canopy in the center, then leave a ~10-15' gap between each cluster of 3, spreading over time to reforest part of a farm field (...and then the world! Mwuahahah!)

Part of my motive asking this question is also just to learn more about guilds. For folks who think they have an answer to this question of if/how well it is likely to work - how do you know!? How can I know?! If you already tried such a guild, that's obviously a good tell. I wonder how experts go about thinking of these things to decide in advance if they're worth planting out and trying.

For one I can plant some smaller test runs, but even then if it works for a couple years I'd probably expand it before the test groups reach maturity.

For two, I can be careful about site selection. All 3 of those plants like well-drained soil, and I have pretty wet clay-ey soil but will be doing things like using sheet mulching with mounds and hugelkulture to help regulate hydrologic conditions. For sunlight I have full-sun and can orient the trees so the most sun-loving are south-facing. So at least with a cursory amateur assessment, it seems like it could work.

I'm in zone 4/5 and so far haven't had great luck with apples but am starting some promising local crabapple seeds now. Hazelnuts have been doing well and I want lots of them, thus making them the focus of the guild. Locust is as locust is - if anything it'll be doing too good for comfort! But we already have plenty of comfort as humans, so the locust can do its thing.
 
steward
Posts: 4645
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi R, have you seen Edible Acres on Youtube?  He is a permaculturist in upstate New York with fairly wet soil.  He has a number of videos on various guilds he's had luck with.  So you might be able to just copy his or at least copy parts of them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2408
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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A) 25ft+ nut (chestnut, heartnut, etc)
B) 16ft+ fruit (semi-dwarf fruit tree, pawpaw, hazelnut, etc)
C) 10ft+ small fruit (elderberry, goumi, jujube, medlar, columnar apple, dwarf fruit trees)
D) 5ft+ berry (currant, gooseberry, blueberry, etc)
E) 2ft+ herb (mint/thyme family, onion, comfrey, daikon, carrot/celery family)
F) 1ft Dutch Clover

Size of guild at maturity = A+ B/2 + C/2 + D/2 + E/2 = 25+8+5+1 = 39ft + (4ft walkway)
At establishment I plant alot of dutch clover, herbs, berries and then cull as the fruits/nuts require more space.

Dutch Clover for my nitrogen needs
Herbs to confuse pest, predatory insect habitat, onion family for bad soil nematodes, soil areation + mineral mining
Berries for a harvest next year
Small fruit for a harvest the 2nd year
Fruits for a harvest the 3rd year
Nuts for a harvest the 6th year

Dutch clover will provide most of the nitrogen as the food forest matures until it is shaded out.
Autumn olive/Seaberry at the small fruit layer with a harvest
I prefer Adler over locust. They are easier to prune, handle and remove and I can get 16ft+ cultivars or 25+ cultivars or 90ft+ cultivars.

Check out these guys for a list of all the nuts that you can grow in your zone 4.
https://www.nuttrees.com/edible-nut-trees/other-edible-nut-trees

You can grow most if not all the plants in the prunus subfamily, like apricot, sand cherry, etc.
https://onegreenworld.com/product/montrose-apricot-fruit-tree/

You can grow pretty much every think in the apple/pear sub fsmily
https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/?cat=Pears

Sadly no pawpaw for you though.

Most the berries will do fine in your zone 4/5.

When you have 50 different species, the odds of all or even 25% of them getting hit by pesr in any given year is tiny, but over a 20yr period every single one of them will get hit by pest. But on any given year you will be okay.

 
R Spencer
Posts: 69
Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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Mike Jay wrote:Hi R, have you seen Edible Acres on Youtube?  He is a permaculturist in upstate New York with fairly wet soil.  He has a number of videos on various guilds he's had luck with.  So you might be able to just copy his or at least copy parts of them.



Yes, I'm a big fan of Edible Acres! I've watched a bunch of their videos but only one if any on guilds. Will revisit!

S Bengi thanks for the awesome info! I had a gut feeling guilds are sort of "plug and play" where different plants can be substituted that serve a similar role in any combinations, as long as each individual plant is generally OK for that site & climate. Your post seems to confirm that intuition!
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 2408
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I mostly agree except with walnut (and possible others in that family).
They don't play nice with the prunus sub-family and apple/pear sub-family, but seems okay with blackberry sub-family (maybe it does affect them but it just makes them nice vs invasive). I think they are fine with all the other berry in whatever family.

I have also heard that other than apple the rest of the rose family (prunus+blackberry+pear sub-family) is fine.
And that the tomato and potato are not too happy maybe wolfberry/goji is fine.
Blueberry family is not okay with it
Or the Nannyberry family

Next is polyculture garden (mint/thyme family vs carrot/dill family vs bean family vs onion family vs cabbage family vs spinach family).
The interactions are very complex. Too much to write out. Maybe I will post a infographic chart later, but you didn't really ask about garden just food forest.

 
gardener
Posts: 678
Location: Western Washington
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I have a pretty wet soil but in a warmer zone. Some ways people here deal with it are by grafting pears onto hawthorn and apples onto pacific crabapple, which will even thrive in seasonally standing water (and possibly even wetter). I'm not sure of its cold hardiness though.

I've also found that planting in mounds helps a lot. I even know a woman who grows peaches in a swamp this way.

As already mentioned, some types of walnut would work, though you'd have to set up a juglone tolerant guild, which is very possible. A friend in zone 4 Wisconsin has had success with black walnut, buartnut, butternut (though I'd be worried about canker there), and heartnut (this one surprised me quite a bit). He's also (also surprising to me) had success with certain types of English walnut. I suspect that Cascade and Carpathian seedlings were involved (you can get both from Burnt Ridge, among others). There are plenty of things that can thrive near walnuts, but as S Bengi said, certain things will have a lot harder of a time.
 
gardener
Posts: 6066
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Black locust  is usually considered an invasive plant, it reproduces from root junctions so if you did use it, you will be working to control it or it will take over your guild trees.
This is a tree that is so rot proof it is used for fence posts because they don't need to be treated to last over 20 years.
Honey locust is a whole different animal in the related tree world.
 
James Landreth
gardener
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Is honeylocust less invasive?
 
R Spencer
Posts: 69
Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Black locust  is usually considered an invasive plant, it reproduces from root junctions so if you did use it, you will be working to control it or it will take over your guild trees.
This is a tree that is so rot proof it is used for fence posts because they don't need to be treated to last over 20 years.
Honey locust is a whole different animal in the related tree world.



I have been wondering about this. I have a black locust I've been growing in a pot for a while and want to give it a home, either in my back yard or a nearby field I have access to some area to create an orchard on. The field seems more suitable for this farm-handy tree, but I hear it can be a bane to farmers as much as a boost.

Personally I have seen it used in restoration because of its capacity to spread, but I have not seen it spread unwanted much. I've seen it behave well without tons of root suckers or volunteers in a forest garden, but maybe that's because the space around it was all occupied by other vegetation already or pavement? Any tips for keeping black locust under control / avoid problems with it while enjoying its numerous benefits?
 
pioneer
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R Spencer wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Black locust  is usually considered an invasive plant, it reproduces from root junctions so if you did use it, you will be working to control it or it will take over your guild trees.
This is a tree that is so rot proof it is used for fence posts because they don't need to be treated to last over 20 years.
Honey locust is a whole different animal in the related tree world.



I have been wondering about this. I have a black locust I've been growing in a pot for a while and want to give it a home, either in my back yard or a nearby field I have access to some area to create an orchard on. The field seems more suitable for this farm-handy tree, but I hear it can be a bane to farmers as much as a boost.

Personally I have seen it used in restoration because of its capacity to spread, but I have not seen it spread unwanted much. I've seen it behave well without tons of root suckers or volunteers in a forest garden, but maybe that's because the space around it was all occupied by other vegetation already or pavement? Any tips for keeping black locust under control / avoid problems with it while enjoying its numerous benefits?



I'm in the opposite boat.  I want mine to spread.  So far, mine haven't.
 
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