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Fruit Tree Guilds

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My sad little Apple tree is about 3 years old, and has bloomed, but none of the blooms have set apples. After taking the Permaculture Design Course, I came home and started a guild. A guild is a group of plants that support each other and contribute to the ecosystem. The guild members support the apple tree in numerous ways by luring beneficial insects needed for pollination and pest control, by boosting soil fertility, conserving water, and controlling weeds, although some weeds like dandelion and plantain might be beneficial to the guild.

My guild currently had fennel and comfrey as soil builders, I think there are dandelions as well, and bulbs around the drip line of the tree to suppress grass which competes with the tree roots for nutrients. Daffodil bulbs are particularly good because deer don’t like them, so they are less likely to strip the bark off your tender fruit trees.

I also transplanted my abundant chive from my herb garden that works a grass suppressor and also may repel some insects due to its strong smell.

I would like to add some yarrow to attract insects and birds, and some nitrogen fixers nearby, perhaps cover and cow peas or fava beans as nitrogen fixers. I have one comfrey plant, which I hope to add several more, which can provide beneficial mulch to improve the soil around the trees. Nasturtiums and Marigolds at the edge of the orchard may deter insects as well

Finally I might pile up some stones logs and brush in the woods near my trees to provide habitat nook for lizards, frogs and snakes so that they might come out and eat the insects off of my trees and plants if the vegetation under the trees gets too lush.

I would like to give credit for much of the above information came out the excellent book Gaia’s Garden A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway.http://www.patternliteracy.com/Gaias Gardengaias_garden

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