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Pear Tree Guild

Planting Fruit Tree Guilds

A practical example
Friday, June 20, 2014, 3:37 PM

Last year, I prepped and installed some of my fruit tree guilds. I had planned to install the following guilds around my zone 2 fruit trees. As with most plans, they did not go exactly according to plan. I had trouble getting some of the plants and seed, and I decided to plant more chicken friendly edibles, as these trees are inside the chicken paddocks. Having said that, my original plan was good, so I am listing it below, in case you might want to copy it. The important thing is that you install ample nitrogen fixers, nutrient accumulators, pollinator attractors, and pest repellants. Nitrogen fixers are the most important part of the guild.

Fruit Tree Guild

What I planned to plant:

Apple “Dwarf”

Shrubs: (1) elaeagnus x ebbingei

Groundcover: chives, horseradish, parsley, oregano, parsnips, garlic, daikon, dutch white clover

Cherry “Dwarf”

Shrubs: (1) elaeagnus x ebbingei

Groundcover: chives, horseradish, parsley, oregano, parsnips, garlic, daikon, dutch white clover

Pear “Medium Rootstock”

Shrubs: (3) Russian Olive, (3) Sunchokes

Groundcover: chives, oregano, camas, bee balm, dill, yarrow, chicory, daikon, dutch white clover

Nectarine “Medium Rootstock”

Shrubs: (3) Russian Olive, (3) Sunchokes

Groundcover: chives, horseradish, parsley, oregano, parsnips, garlic, daikon, dutch white clover

Fruit Tree Guild

What I ended up with listed below:

Apple “Dwarf”

Shrubs: (1) goumi

Groundcover: chives, garlic, dutch white clover, chicory, daikon, dill, alfalfa

Cherry “Dwarf”

Shrubs: (1) goumi

Groundcover: chives, garlic, dutch white clover, chicory, daikon, dill, alfalfa

Pear “Medium Rootstock”

Shrubs: (3) goumi

Groundcover: chives, dill, yarrow, chicory, garlic, dutch white clover, daikon, alfalfa

Nectarine “Medium Rootstock”

Shrubs: (3) goumi

Groundcover: chives, garlic, daikon, dutch white clover, dill, yarrow, alfalfa

Pear Tree Guild

~ Phil Williams

Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant and designer and creator of the website foodproduction101.com.  His website provides useful, timely information for the experienced or beginning gardener, landscaper, or permaculturalist. Phil's personal goals are to build soil, restore and regenerate degraded landscapes, grow and raise an abundance of healthy food of great variety, design and install resilient permaculture gardens in the most efficient manner possible, and teach others along the way.

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10 Comments

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 25 2008
Posts: 144
Comfrey

Thanks Phil.

Any particular reason you did not put in any comfrey? I've seen a lot of people use that plant as a nutrient accumulator.

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 345
Comfrey

Kevin,

Part of my choices for the guilds ended up being what was convenient and cost effective at the time. Comfrey is a great addition to a fruit tree guild. I planted some comfrey as a mulch plant, nutrient accumulator, and pollinator attractor on my swales, and have since harvested root and added to my fruit tree guilds. Comfrey gets to be pretty big, so (1) comfrey plant per fruit tree is enough to supply mulch in a chop and drop situation for that tree. If you get a few plants going, it is easy to harvest root and make many plants.

Thanks
Phil

 

 

 

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 25 2008
Posts: 144
comfrey tractor

Cool, thanks Phil.

it is easy to harvest root and make many plants

I've heard of something called a "comfrey tractor" where you use something like an old milk crate, put dirt in it, grow comfrey in it, wait until the roots grow down through the bottom of the crate, into the soil, then you just give the whole crate a sharp twist to cut off the roots in the ground and move the whole thing to a new location where it will grow roots back down into the soil again and repeat. I've been wanting to try doing this myself.

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 345
Comfrey Tractor

Kevin,

That's really interesting. I bet it would work. When I put my main feature pond in, I had to move the downslope swale to get the overflow to connect. In the process some comfrey got moved. I ended up with comfrey all over the place. A happy accident.

Phil

 

 

learningtoprepare's picture
learningtoprepare
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 2 2013
Posts: 2
Comfrey
 
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Phil,

What do you mean by: using Comfrey as a mulch plant?

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 345
Comfrey as mulch

If you plant one comfrey plant under your trees, when the comfrey gets large, you can cut it down, and use the cutting as a nutrient rich mulch underneath the tree. I use a corn knife to cut it down. The benefit is free mulch that you don't have to haul in that is filled with nutrients.

Tall's picture
Tall
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2010
Posts: 564
Please research before you plant

Ebbinge's Silverberry

Elaeagnus x ebbingei is an invasive in many parts of the country. Birds readily spread the seeds as the fruits are attractive to them. Please do the research and plant as appropriate for your location. Do not be part of the problem!

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 345
Eleagnus as Invasive

Tall,

Eleagnus x ebbingei is Eleagnus. Eleagnus commutata is Silverberry, although common names vary of course.

Eleagnus x ebbingei is a nitrogen fixer, so you can use it as a chop and drop in any food forest. Once the main over story canopy has closed, the eleagnus will phase out of the system having done it's job. In addition to being a nitrogen fixer it is:

-Forage for farm animals

-Attracts beneficial insects

-Can be a windbreak and hedgerow

-And has edible fruit

Please Eleagnus come invade my property, I could really use the free nitrogen!

Phil

 

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2012
Posts: 403
Autumn Berry (Eleagnus)!

One of my favorite wild edibles in October. I think it's 10x more potent as an antioxidant than tomatoes because of it's high lycopene content. It makes a funky jam because of it's unique flavor, but the fruit leather is wonderful. 

It's an excellent edge habitat species so it creates utility in the area of the property between tree cover and open field. I guess the Rubus berries also have this function. Mixing Eleagnus with blackberries and the raspberries would ideal for my design.

Autumn berry is not a native plant to North America, but is now a member of the current ecology of the landscape, so no moral concerns should be had.

Wildlife Tracker's picture
Wildlife Tracker
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 14 2012
Posts: 403
Tall

I use to be one of the guys spraying herbicide and manually managing invasive plants like Autumn berry/olive. It's not going anywhere. Certain plants I agree should be controlled, but in a world about experience food scarcity. Embracing Autumn Olive is not such a bad idea. There is a lot of utility for both humans and wildlife from this plant.

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