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Apple Tree Guild

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Project by MsDebbieP posted 04-14-2010 08:20 PM 3260 views 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

April 14/10

This year a big focus will be on starting “guilds” around my fruit trees. The intention is to create a natural and healthy environment for my trees which will reduce the work (in the long run) and improve productivity. That’s the theory I’m working with, anyway.

Today is the first step (other than having started some seeds in the house) in making it happen.

1. I purchased some triple mix and am currently in the process of spreading it around the tree and connecting it to the fence line, to reduce grass-cutting in that area.
2. place the soil around the apple tree, the fence line, and the pear tree. I decided not to join them at this time so it would make grass-cutting easier until I can fill in the entire section.

Picture 1: the plan.
Notice the fence line at the back of my property, the intended location of the soil, the apple tree, and of course my truck with a representation of the “soil” in the back.

Picture 2: the soil
the “work” part of stage one is done.

Picture 3: the seedlings (or as Rick says “the crop of spoons”)
Because I’m so bad at plant identification I usually plant something one week and then rip it out the next week thinking that it is a weed. (Ok that might be an exaggeration but you get the picture).
So this year I got a box of plastic spoons from my Mom (garage sale find) and I popped a spoon in at at least one of each of the different plant species. This way I can compare leaves before pulling out a potential weed.

There are (let’s see if I remember them all):
  • comfrey
  • garlic chives
  • fennel
  • black cumin
  • plantain

That’s it for now. I am getting a load of dirt delivered today and the extra will go around the edge of this section and I will put nasturtiums around the edge. Oh that sounds so pretty I might do that first. :)

Picture 4: filled in (May 25/10)
This weekend I added more dirt, joining the two trees. I planted in the open section:
  • brown beans
  • joe-pye weed
  • beets

And around the edge of the trees – nasturtiums

2012 Goals
This year, I plan on letting the comfrey take over the area between the apple and pear trees. I would like to have more comfrey and this area is a little too shaded for vegetables, although everything has done quite well there.
It is also right beside two rain barrels so I can toss comfrey into the barrels adding nutrients to the water.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)



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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

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23 comments so far

View mmh's profile

mmh

332 posts in 2216 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 04-14-2010 08:58 PM

What type of apple tree do you have? I have a 5-in-1 Antique Apple tree. Every year it is full of beautiful blooms and I found out what Apple Cedar Rust is. It’s an ugly spotted red growth that infests the leaves. If left unattended it depletes the tree’s nutrients from being able to photosynthesis with it’s leaves. I was able to curb the ACR with a non-toxic spray of approximately 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide, 1 part Baking Soda, a few drops of liquid soap and 8 parts water. The solution is not exact, but the formula is sprayed on the leaves, top & bottom and the soap helps it adhere. Allow to dry and reapply after rainfall.

Unfortunately the apples are all eaten by the squirrels (one bite and dropped) before harvest. I’m going to try to spray the tree with a solution including melaleuca tea tree oil to deter the biting. Maybe we’ll have an apple this year!

-- A weed is a plant that is growing where it was not purposefully placed by human hands.

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-14-2010 09:51 PM

the tree is a “deb———-” blah blah blah. I bought it because of the name. The apples are DELECTABLE!

good to know about the rust, the remedy and the biting trick! Thanks.
I’m also adding another photo to update the status of the guild.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1949 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-15-2010 02:10 AM

Have any of your comfrey seeds sprouted yet? What other plants are you thinking about including in your guilds? I have started on my apple and cherry trees, I will post them as a project if/when this work load ever diminishes.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-15-2010 03:11 AM

I have a few seeds up.
I have some Garlic Chives, and nasturtiums and.. hmmm I’ll have to look it up tomorrow.
I plan to plant the seedlings and toss extra seeds into the spaces.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View sharad's profile

sharad

1645 posts in 1904 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 04-15-2010 09:51 AM

Your second picture gives good idea of what you have done and what you propose to do. Lot of work involved!

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View davidc61's profile

davidc61

417 posts in 1720 days
hardiness zone 4

posted 04-15-2010 11:00 AM

its nice to such green grass. I can’t grasp not gardening all year round as even in winter here you can always get out in the garden. I was born in the UK but I was only 5 when we moved to Australia, so I don’t have a great memory of snow and very cold winters. So I do admire what you go through for your gardens.

-- David, Adelaide South Australia. Every day I wake up breathing is a good day!

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-15-2010 12:03 PM

for around the fruit trees, I have:
  • comfrey
  • garlic chives
  • fennel
  • plantain
  • nasturtiums
  • yarrow

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1949 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-16-2010 02:31 AM

Looks like a great list, Debbie, with insect attractors/houses, mulch makers and nutrient accumulators.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-16-2010 11:14 AM

is that what I have?? :D
excellent!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2290 posts in 2507 days

posted 04-16-2010 01:28 PM

very busy woman and hard work

looks great !!!!

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 04-16-2010 01:38 PM

thanks.
Yes it was hard work… I’ve messed up a muscle in my shoulder… two days of pain/annoyance… argh

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-19-2010 07:13 PM

May 19/10
My original posting has been updated (one picture and information)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1949 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-19-2010 10:25 PM

I love your crop of spoons! I have been thinking longingly of Bon’s plant markers these days…. After scattering plants around under all the fruit trees, I am finding if difficult to remember what all of them are without checking my master plan.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-19-2010 11:05 PM

well don’t use spoons if you want to write on them. The permanent marker lasts until one dewy night.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2317 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-20-2010 02:44 AM

MsDeb, I used plastic knives to mark my seeds when I planted them. Then when I transplanted to bigger pots I move the knives along with the plants. They have been outside for a month now, through rain and lots of dews and the printing is still there. When you are buying a permanent marker for your plant id, look for one that is used to mark on clothes (like when kids go to camp), a laundry-proof marker. I have used one for years to mark my plants in the garden and the names are still there after winter in the garden.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-20-2010 03:12 AM

thanks for the tip!
That will make life much easier.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-24-2010 07:03 PM

no picture update today (yet) but I’ve done a lot of work around the apple tree this weekend.

At times it has felt like A LOT of work (almost too much) but then I stopped to think – I’ve planted mostly perennial plants around the tree and they will hopefully spread like wild fire over the next couple of years. I hope that this means that I’ll only have to watch for grass creeping into my “tree guild” and trying to take over.

As I look around at all the work I’ve done this year and how far my gardens have come in the the past three years I know that there will soon be little “work work” left to do and only “maintenance work” to keep things going forward as planned.

  • The more native plants I re-introduce to this piece of land the less work there will be.
  • The more connected the tree are, with flower, bushes, etc, the less work there will be.
  • The more ground covers I get started (yet to be done) the less weeding areas there will be.

So what did I add this weekend:
1. I connected the pear tree to the apple tree with some fresh dirt
2. In this open section, I planted some brown bean seeds, some flax seeds, and some beets.
3. Around the edge of this new section and around the outer edge of my “tree guild” I planted some nasturtiums. I hope that they will spread and fill in the holes between the comfrey and other seedlings that I planted this year. I hope this helps to keep the weeds down through the season.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Bon's profile

Bon

7374 posts in 2467 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-24-2010 08:55 PM

Amazing amount of work you and Rick have done there.Your yard sure is looking good though.And the variety of stuff you have planted so far….Wow.

-- Bon,Hastings,Ont.....zone 5a....Always room for one more

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3808 posts in 2317 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-25-2010 03:40 PM

Watching for updated pics. :)

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-26-2010 01:14 AM

May 25/10

I added a photo

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4305 posts in 1949 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-26-2010 02:14 PM

You sure are working hard this spring; it will look great, especially when all those spoons grow : ) and Rick will thank you for having one less circle to make on his mower.

I have been watching my guilds closely. They are still quite young but I am just imagining what they will be like when they grow together. I am glad you are trying this too.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-26-2010 06:04 PM

less circles—that is my goal!! :)

I chuckled at the growing spoons vision—that would be funny. I should get some big spoons and switch them – I wonder if Rick would notice hahaa

I hope the work pays off!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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MsDebbieP

14684 posts in 2687 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-28-2010 07:25 PM

Added Benefit

Yesterday (or the day before—I forget now) I was running the hoe through my flower gardens and I realized that I was doing something different. Now that I am intentionally growing “weeds” around my apple tree, knowing that there are benefits to each of the plants, I found that I am now hoeing out less plants around my flowers and bushes.

Basically, if it is grass or bindweed – it goes. Pretty much everything else stays. Oh so much less work!!! Woo hoo.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

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