In my post, “A Lesson,” I documented efforts to begin regeneration of the soil around our hurtin’, and literally, “weeping” cherry tree. I finished the sheet mulched bed and began to design a plant guild which will, hopefully, help this tree. If the tree is too far gone, I hope this bed will make a very good home for the next tree.
I have been doing my designs in Google SketchUp, using a very basic layer technique. It works quite well for me as a SketchUp beginner. I exported the file to a .jpg to avoid problems for others to open the .skp file. I color coded the plants and everything is to scale. I have included nitrogen fixers, dynamic accumulators, ground covers, insectary and nectary plants, as well as plants that will provide delicious food and drink for the household. It is designed to develop, over time, into a self maintaining, self fertile system. There is a growing amount of information on edible forest gardening and creating plant guilds, so, I won’t go into too much detail here. I do recommend visiting Dave Jacke’s website if you want to know more about the topic. Another great site is Apios Institute which gives specific information on plants and trial plant guilds. I’m, particularly, interested in how NJ Tea and beach plum will do in this guild. I have no experience with them. I have heard that the NJ Tea does not take real well to transplanting. We’ll see about that. I, also, want to interplant clover here and there. Clover is just too good to pass up. It is a nitrogen fixer, insectary, nectary, and a ground cover. Some types make a good blossom tea, too. I am pretty happy with this design on “paper.” I am missing vining and edible root plants, so, am not taking full advantage of all the potential levels available in a food forest. I have a couple of experiments going on elsewhere and if I like what I see, I may switch out plants or add new plants to the design.
I used Dave Jacke’s worksheets from his website to record the needs and the uses of each plant to see that competition is at a minimum and functions are at a maximum. It is a lot of work and there is a lot of detail but I find that this is a useful part of the process of designing a guild. I don’t expect you will want to read through the document but, maybe, take a peek at weepingcherryguild. I obtained much of this information from Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier’s book, Edible_Forest_Gardens, vol two. Personally, I have found that buying both volumes has been very well worth the investment!
This design is, very much, subject to change. I’ll keep you updated. Most of the planting will occur in September and October. Meanwhile, there are several other designs to work out. Stay tuned.