Design 1- Apple tree guilds

Permaculture Design/s

Apple Tree Guilds x 2 (based on tree guild in Gaias Garden book)

Observations:

General: South facing garden, great sun exposure, some shaded areas due to existing trees, a lot of lawn, fairly monoculture, but does have trees, berry bushes, lots of moss on the grass, nettles growing wherever it can, has privacy/windbreaks created by large trees (laylandies?) all around. Some willow trees, wild strawberries and various other young trees which I don’t recognise (hopefully that will be remedied soon when I have some local gardeners here!!).

Specific: There are two small apple trees with large trees beside them, I have been told they were planted 2-3years ago and last year produced two apples each. The trunks are quite spindly, still seem quite fragile, not sure what type they are, below them the ground is bare/sparse didn’t look very ‘alive’, apart from some nettle close by which looks like it is threatening to take over!! The drip line is grassed which could be mulched and planted into but there is a kind of archway/pathway between the larger trees (alongside) which makes a nice feature,

Boundaries

The pathway between the trees is a nice feature, so don’t want to plant too far away from trunk or past the drip line as this would divide the garden in two and I quite like the continuation.

My lack of gardening skills

Maybe they are not planted in the ‘right’ place, but my lack of knowledge means I don’t know if that is so. (But I wouldn’t want to uproot them anyway) and I would not know at this stage where I would plant apple trees or any other trees to start a guild. (The problem is the solution)

Lots of undergrowth nearby of nettles, but again this may not be a problem.

Large trees shade out a good bit of the sun, but as the garden is south facing this could be less of a problem.

Need to work with existing vegetation and trees around the apple trees.

Resources

Found some well decomposed compost from last tenants (in a compost bin that initially I did not see)

Lots of leaf mulch

I had lots of seeds, and had read lots including the Toby Hemenway’s guild design with apple trees at the centre of the guild.

The fact that the trees have produced some fruit so far makes me think they could be healthy and they are there so no need to make any changes

Sunshine, rain, lots of birds/wildlife, soil seems fairly healthy given the growth and state of existing trees

Evaluate

Given that the trees are already there, that the soil around seems in good health (albeit bare and starting to encourage pioneer plants) and that I don’t feel knowledgeable to start something from scratch I thought it would be a good idea to bolster the tree with some further vegetation below/creating a guild or stacking and utilise/enrich/feed the ground that is bare and therefore the apple trees.

Having studied Gaias Garden ~ Toby Hemenway’s, Apple Tree Guilds I realised that I had many of the seeds, seedlings required to begin the design.

The surrounding soil looks to me like it could do with some nutrients and given some ‘life’ and from the information I had read I thought I could try this as an experiment, whilst also giving me some food and the tree some support.

Design


Design – Apple tree guild (1)

I decided to go for the classic text book design (Gaias Garden ~ Toby Hemenway) until I gain experience and can get some ‘feedback’, so the thinking is to use the bare soil and give it

some life and not spread out too far, keeping the archway and continuation into the lower part of the garden. The plants/elements I have chosen are mostly edible and support many functions (myself, the apple tree, the soil and wildlife).

Elements to be planted in the guild & their functions

Garlic bulbs planted around the base of the trunk, and garlic chive bulbs placed on the outer edge of the guild (drip line) to suppress grass.

Mulch plants

1 Comfrey plant, 2 Artichoke plants, Lots of red clover*, Couple of wild Strawberries as living mulch

Nutrient Accumulators

Parsley, Chives, Sorrel, Borage, Marigold, Lupin*

Nitrogen Fixers

Alfalfa*, Clover*, Lupin*

Insect attracting plants

Coriander, Parsley, Lemon balm, Angelica, Fennel, Alfalfa*, Marigold*

*Multiple functions

Ethics: Care for the Earth, Care for the People

Principles: Observe & Interact, Catch & Store Energy, Obtain a Yield (hopefully), Apply Self-Regulation (and accept feedback), Design from Patterns to detail, Use Small & Slow Solutions, Use & Value Diversity, Creatively use & Respond to Change, the Problem is the Solution (my lack of skills and trees already there asking to be supported!!)

Many of the plants have multiple functions in terms of what they give to the soil & wildlife but also in terms of their uses for humans; food, medicinal purposes, adding colour & flowers (creating joy) and once established should be self-regulated.

 

Implement

Laid the compost & some shredded leaves around the base of the tree to create a circle, and cleared debris 07/04/2012

Have planted out most seeds on 14/04/2012. Still to plant out Angelica, Fennel, Garlic chives, Artichoke, Nasturtiums when the seeds arrive next week.

16/04/2012 Planted out the Angelica, Fennel, Garlic Chives, Artichoke

Maintain apple guild 1

23/05/2012 Over the last few weeks we have had huge amounts of rain and dull weather and there were no signs of any seedlings, however, what was growing abundantly around the area were nettles, taking over all of the ground below the tree!! I had decided when I planted things out that I was not going to weed, but was beginning to doubt my idea and possible stubbornness.  The area under the tree gets very little light and with all the nettles I was wondering if my seedlings would ever get a chance to sprout. Two days ago 21/05/2012 it was sunny, as it had been for a few days so I decided to at least cut back the nettle growth to allow some sunshine in, however, as I held onto the very large nettle plants to cut them back they came away from the ground roots and all, very easily. I presumed that this was some divine intervention and that nature was ‘telling’ me that they had done their job and were now freely coming up to allow other things to thrive. So I went ahead and pulled all of the nettles out of the ground with barely no effort, none at all really. But looking back on these notes I see that for one week before planting out the seeds I had covered the area with compost and leaves, covering the existing nettle completely. I did this too feed the earth and also to stop light getting to the nettles, but had presumed my plan had backfired and that the compost had in fact fed the nettles. I now believe that they came up so easily due to the ground cover I had laid. I pressed in a few more seeds, not as many as I had originally, but I reckoned that I may have planted them too soon and due to the frosts, rain etc I should plant a few more, for good luck. So, the ground was now bare, which I thought was not a good idea and therefore just threw the nettles over the ground to act as a mulch. Today, moving this aside a bit I see that there are some seedlings showing through!! Double bonus, no weeds and some seedlings. Now I just have to wait and see what matures and hope that I haven’t planted out too many seeds in my small apple guild.

Ground covering of …. nettles!!! Looking healthy!!

all nettles pulled up and re-used as mulch

4/6/2012

Still not much sign of seedlings coming on, ground getting slowly covered again with nettles and some other unidentified growth. Not very much sun getting to the ground at all due to large trees at the side, now in full bloom. Today I planted in some seedlings of nasturtiums and wild strawberry. thought if they had a head start they might just grow!!

Will continue to Maintain, Evaluate & Tweek (as necessary)

 

Design – Apple tree guild (2)

As above but the space around this tree is less due to a hedge behind it and a very large tree next to it.

Elements to be planted in the guild & their functions

Wild Leek planted around the base of the trunk and Garlic Chive b

ulbs around the outer circle to suppress grass

Mulch plants

Lots of Clover*, Nasturtiums, Wild Strawberries, Artichoke plant

Nutrient Accumulators

Borage, Lupin, Chives, Marigold*

Nitrogen Fixers

Clover*, Fava Beans, Tao Beans, Alfalfa*

Insect attracting plants

Alfalfa*, Angelica, Marigold*, Fennel (close by)

Others

Echinacea

*Multiple functions

Ethics: Care for the Earth, Care for the People

Principles: Observe & Interact, Catch & Store Energy, Obtain a Yield (hopefully), Apply Self-Regulation (and accept feedback), Design from Patterns to detail, Use Small & Slow Solutions, Use & Value Diversity, Creatively use & Respond to Change, the Problem is the Solution (my lack of skills and trees already there asking to be supported!!)

Many of the plants have multiple functions in terms of what they give to the soil & wildlife but also in terms of their uses for humans; food, medicinal purposes, adding colour & flowers (creating joy) and once established should be self-regulated.

Maintain

23/05/2012 This ground gets much less light than the my first apple guild, had much less weeds and nettles growing, but there were a few so I did the same as above. I can also see some seedlings sprouting around this tree and around the sycamore tree which stands to the south (shading out the light) of the apple tree. This guild had less seeds planted as it is a smaller area, but given that less light enters the seedlings seem to sprouting, not better than, but maybe equally to the other guild.

4/6/2012

As above. Still not much sign of seedlings coming on, ground getting slowly covered again with nettles and some other unidentified growth. Not very much sun getting to the ground at all due to large trees at the side, now in full bloom. Today I planted in some seedlings of nasturtiums and wild strawberry. thought if they had a head start they might just grow!!

hardly any nettles and a few sprouts!!

Will continue to Maintain, Evaluate & Tweak (as necessary)

Tracey Hay 14/04/2012

two spindly baby trees & inexperienced permaculturist!!

Just planted out the seeds 16/04/2012

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