Yes I was a bit fazed by how simple and yet complicated fruit guilds seemed to be, and was getting overwhelmed by the quantity of stuff I was reading about them, so this thread is very useful. There's lots I don't understand, for example I didn't know the bulbs had to be in a ring, now I understand why they all say "in a ring", thank you !
I'll add my amateur contribution in case it's useful and/or needs correcting !
My first four trees are the most traditional, an apple, a plum, a cherry and a pear, and all rosaceae so if I understand correctly there is some crossover between what's beneficial to one or another. I won't be planting peach trees until I'm a bit more sure of myself, we pulled an existing one out because we coulldn't bear to see the horrible leaf curl which looks like someone's having fun torturing nature. I've bunged some stuff into their planting mounds, bulbs I wanted for spring jollyness and stuff I had in the garden, to be pretty if not known to be useful and fill up some space quickly and stop the cats from digging (have even added turf on the slopes for that, sorry trees you'll just have to wait till I can replace it with something cat-proof), and am deciding what to sow and add as the spring arrives.
Like you I've listed plants I've seen suggested or used under each kind of fruit tree, starting with apple because it's the most documented. So then I've put that list into a table with their guild functions in columns, and for each suggested plant I'm trying to tick columns for different functions it performs. I've done a "nbval" in another column which allows me to see how many functions each plant performs (which helps me to understand why Comfrey is so popular !). Then I'll be able to see which functions are missing and which plants I can be choosy about. For my own reasons I've made more categories than are listed above, they may be of some interest to you :
- Pollinators (nectar and or pollen)
- Birds / Insectary - auxilliaries
- Repellant / confuses
- Sentinel (not sure what "sentinel" means - maybe underground "repellant" or maybe plants like nasturtiums that attract unwanted creatures away from our fruit trees ?)
- Nitrogen fixer
- Other dynamic accumulators (I separated this function because I'm going to need more than just nitrogen fixers - even if there's some doubling up with "mulch" or "taproot")
- Grass suppressing - aleopathic or groundcover
- Decompact / Tilth
- Tap root (specifically)
- Edible or medicinal
- Chicks (edble by or otherwise useful to my future chickens if not to humans)
- Evergreen hedge /privacy
The last two functions are needed near my apple tree because it's near the edge of my garden.
(I'm also planning to check out some stuff on functions I saw online free for permaculture design, now that it will start to make more sense to me.)
I've added a few more columns to help me decide :
- "Family" as I know I want members of certain families under my fruit trees. For example, in Europe apples and pears are attacked by a moth, Cydia pomonella, so I know I want plenty of Apiaceae nearby to host some of their enemies. I'll be planting something from the wonderful mint family too, though it won't be mint, which grows wild in large swathes here.
- Plants that have been observed as occuring in their natural biotope (via the impressive French "Permaforêt" site http://permaforet.blogspot.fr/p/biotope.html
- Plants that are aleopathic to them or otherwise undesirable
Then I'll choose according to where I want what, other plants, how attractive it is to me, light and shade and so on.
I'm bound to make some mistakes but it will all be a good learning experience !