When we first moved to our property, there was a mature apple tree already in the backyard. Not only was a excited about having an immediate source of fruit but I was eager to make the apple tree less lonely. Surrounded by grass and not much else, I set to work on creating an apple tree guild.
A fruit tree guild is a beneficial assembly of plants underplanted around a central element, like a fruit or nut tree. Some of the plants around the tree might help build the soil, others might attract pollinators, others might repel pests, and still others might act as mulch or suppress grass. Often the plants are multifunctional and serve to create a mini ecosystem. Multiple fruit tree guilds in one area can create a food forest.
In my video today, I talk about the different plants that I put underneath the apple tree to build it into a guild. These include some self-seeding annuals like green and red orach, garlic, mustard greens, and parsley, along with perennials like chives, motherwort, rhubarb, and currants. I also talk about the attitude you should take as a designer and gardener when you start building these guilds.