Planting a fruit tree guild is like joining good friends together! These friends are different from each other, but compliment each other and grow as a result of having been together!
Built around the gardening practice of “companion planting”, a fruit tree guild is a grouping of complimentary plants that bring nutrition, repel bugs, smother weeds, etc, planted around the base of the tree.
Creating a fruit tree guild can improve the health and productivity of your trees significantly!
I’ve got quite a few fruit trees on my homestead and I truly regret not planting guilds earlier.
This summer, I’ve been going back to each tree and implementing this system, little by little.
Any new fruit trees that I plant are guilded right away – I won’t be making the same mistake twice!
What Types of Plants are in a Fruit Tree Guild?
I discovered the amazing benefits of comfrey years ago and I can’t say enough good things about it!
Comfrey has deep roots that draw minerals and nutrients from the soil, thereby bringing it to your fruit tree!
Comfrey can do this anywhere it’s planted, so I have it planted in my landscaping, in my herb garden and wild flower patch.
I frequently use the “chop and drop” method with the comfrey to continually fertilize my plants.
Comfrey is also very hardy and doesn’t give weeds much of a chance to establish themselves!
Comfrey also makes a very effective “tea” (liquid fertilizer) which stinks to high heaven…but it works! I like to use it on my landscaping!
Plants that Attract Pollinators and Repel the Bad Bugs
I love to use garlic and onions to naturally repel pests from my garden! This is one of the secrets of keeping a successful organic garden!
Another benefit to using garlic or onions is that when they bloom, they naturally attract pollinators.
Marigold is another favorite of mine!
The bad bugs absolutely hate it but the ladybugs LOVE it!
I plant marigold (or Calendula) all around my vegetable garden and in my potted vegetables as well!
Lavender, rosemary, nasturtium, fennel, dill and hyssop also attract pollinators, but repel the bad bugs.
Once again, comfrey to the rescue!
Simply cut the leaves of the comfrey plant and toss them on the ground around your tree or chop them up first. Either way, the job will get done.
The leaves break down very quickly and are absorbed into the soil!
Ground-covering plants like strawberries, mint, clover, chickweed, miner’s lettuce and others will help to keep the weeds under control.
How to Plant a Fruit Tree Guild
First, you’ll need to plant a fruit tree.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a new tree or if it’s been there a while.
Remove all of the grass around the tree, in the diameter (or estimated, if it’s a young tree) of the canopy.
Don’t skip this step!
Grass is a nitrogen-robber and needs to be removed.
Next, add a layer of well-rotted compost, about 3-4″ deep, around the tree.
Now, it’s time to plant!
Here is a schematic of a very adequate fruit tree guild, although you are welcome to switch things up. Just make sure you have at least one plant from each category.
Your fruit tree will begin to improve it’s appearance and performance, as the guild begins to do it’s work.
Continue to keep grass out of your “guild area” and manage your guild plants as well.