Permaculture Plant Guilds Plants helping Plants

Permaculture Plant Guilds Plants helping Plants are A Permaculture Technique of grouping plants that work together to support one another to the fullest.

A plant guild is a grouping of plants that work together to support one another to the fullest and provide better production than they would otherwise by themselves.  We try to mimic the stacking and relationships found in nature while also providing useful resources to humans.  In a guild we may use a nitrogen fixer to provide nitrogen in the soil, a dynamic accumulator to bring nutrients to the surface for other plants, a plant that attracts beneficial insects to protect other plants and a plant that wards off larger prey like deer.

A guild is much better explained simply by giving an example of a guild and explaining what each member of that guild is doing.  With that in mind, I will show a sample of a plant guild I will be using in the spring of 2016.  It is an excerpt from my PermaEthos PDC (Permaculture Design Course) project.

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The plant guild will consist of several varieties of plants, each with a specific purpose.  A sample plant guild is shown below (reference Gaia’s Garden and foodproduction101) and an explanation of the purpose for each of the plants is shown below the pictures.  There is a plant guild for the mature trees, which have a lot more canopy and therefore have a lot more plants.  The newer trees will have a similar plant guild, but the support plants will not be as close and there will not be as many of them.

Permaculture Plant Guilds Plants helping Plants - Fruit Tree Guild for 8 to 20 Year Trees

Permaculture Plant Guilds Plants helping Plants – Fruit Tree Guild for 8 to 20 Year Trees

Daffodils

Daffodils are planted around the outside edge of the tree right at the drip line as well as right at the trunk.  They are planted at the drip line to act as the first line of defense in the spring to stop the growth of grass into the guild.  The outer ring of daffodils also helps deter deer browsing and has flowers to attract bees.  The inner ring of daffodils helps deter rodents from chewing on the lower bark and has flowers to attract bees.

Comfrey

Comfrey is used as a dynamic accumulator to bring nutrients up to useable levels for the fruit tree.  The comfrey will also grow larger as the summer goes on and shade out any grass that may be trying to move into the guild after the daffodils go dormant.  Summer flowers on the comfrey will attract bees and other pollinating insects.

Goumi

Goumi is a bush added as a nitrogen fixer.  It flowers in the mid-spring, so it will attract pollinators, and it will fruit in early summer.  The bush will be trimmed from time to time and the trimmings will be dropped to the ground to add additional nutrient and mulch to the soil.

Garlic chives

Garlic chives are planted as a pest deterrent as well as an edible.

Permaculture Plant Guilds Plants helping Plants - Fruit Tree Guild for 1 to 7 Year Trees

Permaculture Plant Guilds Plants helping Plants – Fruit Tree Guild for 1 to 7 Year Trees

Chicory

Chicory is planted as a perennial flowering plant to attract pollinators and beneficial insects.  It also acts as a dynamic accumulator.

Yarrow

Yarrow is another dynamic accumulator.  It is also a plant that flowers for a long period of time and attracts beneficial insects.

Autumn Olive

Autumn olive is a nitrogen fixer and is planted just outside of the drip line of the mature trees and a little further out for the younger trees.  The bush will be trimmed from time to time and the trimmings will be placed on the ground under the drip line of the fruit tree to provide additional nutrient and add mulch to the soil.

White Clover

White clover seed will be added in between guild plants as well as outside of the guild to help with fixing nitrogen.  The clover seeds will be inoculated prior to dispersal to increase nitrogen.

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There are many different plant combinations that can be put into a guild.  The best thing to do is not to copy what someone else is doing, but to gather ideas and substitute plants out for plants that provide similar functions, but do well in your area.

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If you like this article, you may also like Food Forest Design Update, Deer Issues, Mulching and Companion Planting is Plants helping Plants

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