Day 51: A Tree Guild

Today I: had a job interview, bought a fridge and a chainsaw

For the LOVE of GOD do not tell my mother I bought a chainsaw.  Also, if the worst happens I will de-friend anyone who calls me stumpy.

I'm taking a very holistic, permaculture-type approach to the design of my new garden.  "Permaculture-type" is my own shorthand for picking and choosing the facets of permaculture that work or appeal, and not going the full permaculture hog on the place (i.e. orchards, zones, buried horns full of poo etc etc).

One of the principles of permaculture that I particularly like is the tree guild.  Here you take your food producing tree (in my case a macadamia and an orange) and underplant it with a carefully chosen selection of plants.

The Principle of the Tree Guild

  1. Tree - fruit or nut*
  2. Suppressors - or bulbs - this is a circle of bulbs planted underneath where the drip line of the tree will be when it is fully-grown. Eg: Alliums such as chives, leeks and garlic. Also clover, oregano, thyme, columbine
  3. Attractors - These attract a variety of insects to help pollinate the plants and prevents any one species of becoming a problem. Eg: Dill, fennel and coriander plants (these CAN be weeds - check in your area), bee balm, borage, 
  4. Repelers - Plants that repel potentially damaging insects. Nasturtiums are the go-to species for this function.  Also mint, oregano and lavender, marigold, alyssum, daisy, basil, chives.
  5. Mulchers - Plants that naturally provide mulch Eg: Comfrey, artichokes or rhubarb 
  6. Accumulators - These species will increase the nutrient content of the soil. Accumulators are plants that send roots deep down into the soil profile to bring up nutrients such as calcium, potassium and sulfur. Eg: yarrow, chicory or dandelion, fennel (can be a weed), comfrey, vetch
  7. Fixers - These plants that will increase the nitrogen in the soil. Eg: Clover, vetch, peas, beans and alfalfa, chamomile
  8. Habitat Nooks - Besides the plants stones and logs can create habitat nooks that will attract animal species. A pond will do the same, attracting frogs, different bird species, and insects, which will add to the effect of keeping insect populations balanced and protect the fruits of your tree guild.

* If you have a huge tree (like my macadamia), its not unusual to underplant it with three or four fruit trees which then have their own guilds

Links I used in my research...