Fruit Tree Guild Plans

I recently shared a post about planting our orchard on a previously useless hill in our backyard. You can read all about it here. The next step is to plant a fruit tree guild around each tree. Today I’m sharing my plans for such a guild.

What is a Tree Guild?

A fruit tree guild is a sustainable gardening method that involves creating a harmonious ecosystem around a central fruit tree. It mimics natural ecosystems by combining various plants with complementary functions. Companion plants attract beneficial insects, deter pests, or offer shade and support, while nitrogen-fixing plants enrich the soil. Ground covers protect against erosion and retain moisture.

This guild concept extends to microorganisms and fungi that enhance soil health. By interplanting species strategically, the garden becomes self-sustaining, reducing the need for external inputs like pesticides and fertilizers.

Fruit tree guilds provide numerous benefits, such as increased biodiversity, improved soil fertility, and a more abundant harvest. The diverse plant selection also attracts pollinators and wildlife, enhancing the overall garden ecosystem.

Embracing the principles of a fruit tree guild fosters a regenerative landscape, where plants, animals, and the environment coexist harmoniously. It not only supports fruit tree growth but also promotes the health and balance of the entire garden, resulting in a thriving and sustainable gardening practice.

Elements of a Fruit Tree Guild

By carefully selecting and arranging these elements, fruit tree guilds create a resilient and self-sustaining ecosystem. Guilds maximize the health and productivity of the fruit tree while minimizing the need for external inputs.

  • Fruit Tree– The central focus of the guild is the fruit tree itself. It can be any fruit-bearing tree suitable for the local climate and space available. I already have this part covered!
  • Companion Plants-These are plants that provide benefits to the fruit tree. They can attract pollinators, repel pests, or enhance the tree’s growth. Examples include herbs like basil, chives, and mint, as well as flowers like marigold and calendula. I’m swimming in herbs and marigolds right now, so this part will be easy!
  • Nitrogen-fixing Plants-These plants have the ability to capture atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form that can be utilized by other plants. Common nitrogen fixers include legumes like clover, peas, and beans. I’m a big fan of perennial plants, so I’ve purchased some red clover seeds for this project.
  • Ground Cover-Low-growing plants that act as living mulch, covering the soil surface around the fruit tree. Ground covers help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and prevent erosion. Examples include clover, thyme, or creeping herbs. My clover can provide for multiple needs.
  • Support Plants-Some plants in the guild can serve as physical support for the fruit tree. These could be trellised plants like grapevines or climbing beans. I am considering some kind of vining berry.
  • Beneficial Insects and Wildlife-Encouraging biodiversity is crucial. Flowers that attract pollinators and plants that provide shelter and food for beneficial insects and wildlife contribute to a balanced ecosystem. The marigolds may drive away deer and rabbits but will be hospitable for insects.
  • Mulch and Organic Matter-Adding organic matter like compost or mulch around the fruit tree helps improve soil structure, fertility, and moisture retention.
  • Fungi and Microorganisms-Incorporating beneficial fungi, like mycorrhizal fungi, and microorganisms in the soil aid nutrient cycling and support the overall health of the guild. Healthy soil will build this layer without human intervention.

How to Plant a Fruit Tree Guild

Step 1: Remove grass surrounding the tree in the space you’d like to use for your guild. This is an optional step, but since grass competes with the other plants for nitrogen, I’ll be removing mine.

Step 2: Add compost and gardening soil. Our soil in the bluegrass is full of clay. In order to encourage our plants to thrive, I’ll add some good-quality soil and compost.

Step 3: Add your plants or seeds. These can be interplanted as you desire, but keep in mind that some plants can get quite large as they grow! Be sure to give all plants plenty of room.

I cannot wait to get my fruit tree guilds started. I have so many plans for what I want them to look like and how I want to use them to increase our food forest!

If you loved this project, you’ll love these projects too:

Do you have a tree guild?

We would love to see what you have created so tag us @The_Bluegrass_Blacksheep on Instagram!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *