Plants

How to build a fruit tree guild

For those unfamiliar, a fruit tree guild is a permaculture method of planting a fruit tree in combination with other plants that will grow together to create a mini ecosystem around the tree.

Fruit crops are an integral part of edible landscaping. They offer shade, fruits, seasonal interest, structure for the design of your garden and much more. A simple way we can support fruit trees is by planting organic guilds.

The creation of a fruit tree guild provides a natural, self-sufficient and useful landscape that encompasses several plant species, each with its own purpose and benefit to the others. These plants have specific qualities that will support your fruit tree.

The complementary plants you use should bring something to the space and help the central plant. These plants can be useful as: nitrogen fixers, dynamic accumulators, pest prevention, weed control, fertilizer producers and pollinating insect attractors.

 

Planning a fruit tree guild

Planting a guild of fruit trees depends on the space. In large spaces, you could develop a large guild. On the other hand, a dwarf fruit tree could be the central element in a smaller space. To carry out a good planning of crop association, it is necessary: select the central plant and complementary plants, choose the right space and make a good design.

Central floor

You can use any type of tree, whether it’s an existing tree on your property or one you’d like to plant from the start. The important part is that you do some research on the tree, such as its growth pattern and mature size.

Also consider what type of soil you prefer, where you are going to plant it and if it is prone to diseases or pest problems. Some types of core plants you can choose from are: apple treewalnutscherry trees, citrus fruits, berry bushes, among others.

Complementary plants

You’ll need plants that enhance the growing space under the larger central tree. These will depend on the amount of light that reaches the area under the tree, some of the options are:

Nitrogen fixers: chamomile, chives, red beans, peas, alfalfa, white clover.

Suppressors or weed controllers: pumpkin, strawberries, thyme, leeks.

Repellents: garlic, marigolds, daffodils, oregano, chives.

Attractors of pollinating insects: mustard, artichoke, lavender, mint, rose, peppermint.

Fertilizer producers: artichoke, comfrey, nasturtium, potato, rhubarb, nettle.

Dynamic accumulators: walnut, lemon balm, parsley, fennel, dandelion, valerian.

Adequate space and design

Select a space that contains enough sunlight for heliophytic plants, a fertilized, healthy soil with good humidity. Remember that the space will depend on the type of central tree you have selected and accept that as your fruit tree matures, the guild will transform.

To build a guild, measure a circle around the fruit tree with sticks or flags to mark the ripe width. This perimeter is called the drip line. The roots of the tree will eventually extend to this point, and perhaps even more.

Spread cardboard under the tree, overlay the ends so that the soil within the drip line is completely covered. Moisten the cardboard with water and cover it with 3-6 inches of compost soil, keep the soil away from the trunk. Make sure that none of the edges of the cardboard are exposed.

Permaculture guilds are not exact methods to follow. In fact, they are combinations of plants that people have made or observed grow together in natural ecosystems. Therefore, it will always be necessary to experiment.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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