pear and cherry guild

topic posted Sun, October 29, 2006 - 6:50 PM by  Unsubscribed
you'll find some new pics in the album . below will give you a sense of what they are about....

Today I planted a couple of pears – a Bartlet and an Anjou- and a Van cherry tree. I started them over a medium of humanure compost, aged between 8 months and 18 months, and applied about 2/3 lb of bone meal to the ground above each. Planting comfrey (Symphytum officinale L.) around them begins the guild. In a few weeks I will com back in and plant garlic around the base.

Comfrey is a soil conditioner and a beneficial insectary, drawing bees and beneficial predators to the area of the trees. Flowering early, it orients pollinators to the area of the orchard trees. Also, as its leaves break down the dynamic accumulation properties of the comfrey pay off in cycling through potassium and nitrogen, which can be located over the tree roots by simply cutting the leaves and piling them around the tree stem. Comfrey propagates by root division, so after two years I will go in and break up the roots, increasing the coverage. Another benefit of the comfrey is that it really likes to move the soil around, homogenizing clay and topsoil strata in just a few seasons. Since my soil is clay rich I have added a bulk of organic raw ingredients- the comfrey should make quick work of this and in a few years I will have a very rich topsoil surrounding the trees.

On top of the bone meal I applied a slightly composted green manure of grass clippings some 2” deep, and then sheet mulched all over the slope to reduce grass seed and milkweed seed propagation and provide a covered, highly mulched soil for the comfrey to move into.

Later, in November, in the areas right around the trees I will plant garlic, which helps reduce approach by root damaging vectors ranging from grubs to moles. Moles don’t actually eat roots but will cut through them as the burrow about for worms & grubs. The garlic repels them. Next spring I will set out daffodils and chives around the trees, and plant raspberries in the interstices. This will fill out the guild. The daffodils really keep a border against moles, but attract slugs, which chives repel. Using the complimentary powers of these plants, nature’s synergies are maximized while the need for chemical and physical controls is reduced.
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  • Re: pear and cherry guild

    Sun, October 29, 2006 - 10:35 PM
    I have comfrey growing underneath my mandarin tree. They say not to plant under citrus because they have feeder roots that stay close to the surface, but comfrey puts down such a deep taproot that I figured it wouldn't compete too much.
    • Unsu...

      Re: pear and cherry guild

      Sun, October 29, 2006 - 10:43 PM
      comfrey is a miner; i dont know subtropics guilding too well... but if the plants seem happy and productive, thats the key to knowing it works. and if so, the question is "why does it work?" Id love to hear your observations about these two and any volunteers that show up...
      • Re: pear and cherry guild

        Mon, October 30, 2006 - 3:33 PM
        Well, I'm too lazy to cut the comfrey leaves... but they generally die back annually so I assume that all that good comfrey stuff gets into the soil. One reason I love them so is that they re-emerge faithfully each year. I love plants that can naturally survive (or even better thrive in) our hot dry summers. And I love the cycle of the garden - plants that go and come back sometimes seem so much more exciting than the ones that are just there all the time. Why does it work? Come on, I'm a scientist... I don't have time to work stuff like that out !? [tongue firmly in cheek]
        • Unsu...

          Re: pear and cherry guild

          Mon, October 30, 2006 - 3:48 PM
          when one simply lets the leaves die and fall the nutrients will tend to not be concentrated where the tree roots have best access to them. to maximize the availability of comfrey nutrients to ones trees one should cut the leaves just as they start to turn color or weep, and deposit them in heaps at the stem/trunk of the tree, or better yet directly place them in compost and then mulch with the compost. they turn black & slimey rather fast in compost, but a pinch of extra chopped straw to balance the C:N ratio will encourage comfrey to turn to a great mulch.

          comfrey is also really good around outdoor sinks and pit toilets, as it can stand much higher acid and nh2o (ammonium? as in oxidized urine>?) levels than many other plants.
          • Re: pear and cherry guild

            Mon, October 30, 2006 - 10:02 PM
            about humanmanure compost-- you can use it just like any other kind of compost? I had thought that it is not to be used for veggies.
            • Unsu...

              Re: pear and cherry guild

              Mon, October 30, 2006 - 11:05 PM
              the fellow who wrote the book leaned towards a more liberal application than I do. I feel fine using it on fruit trees because its buried under them, or if applied as topical fertilizer, its applied completely dessicated and not in contact with the produce. Thats the thought worry with 'nightsoil' as applied in china and old japan and many other parts of the vast orient- that moist feces, not thouroghly composted, is applied to the feilds and comes in contact with produce- radishes, cabbage, spinach, whatever, and blammo, e. coli.

              I think statistically that its just not the case though. we would be hearing about ecoli outbreaks all over the orient, and in india, laos, and so on, where it is quite common from what I have read, for people to relieve themselves in agricultural feilds and on the roadsides.

              I dont know the science well enough to express whats going on with this; but I know that these outbreaks have more to do with cess than with feces itself- cess being water with feces in it.

              the real tragedy is that we waste so much perfectly good water by piling up our stool in it. feces that is in contact with soil poses far less health threat than feces and urine dumped into water. properly mixed and composted, given to the dynamic accumulation cycle which many plants side on, such as the entire borage family, of which comfrey, above, is a member, feces is quite well returned to the cycle of life. stuck in water it can also perpetuate the cycle of life, but of life which we dont really like to come in intimate contact with- coliform bacterias, diptheria, various agues and fevers.. Water borne illness which have historically affected humans have often been caused by our own tendency to abuse water by shoving our waste into it.

              So, without a lot of science I think its pretty clear where humanure stands compared to municipal or septic handling of human wastes. and it grows some mighty fine apples & pear and cherries too!
              • Re: pear and cherry guild

                Tue, October 31, 2006 - 1:48 PM
                thanks for these insights, I am going to save this, especially the parts about water borne diseases. The recent e-coli break out in the U.S. was attributed to an (industrial) organic farm in california which made the news, but later was proved to have come from a industrial conventional farm contaminated by feed lot muck-- this did not make the news, I had to dig to find the results of the investigation. The problem with places in India is also growing food in industrial toxic sludge in urban areas.

                I used the fields while doing fieldwork in rural India. Interestingly, this practice tends to be unsafe for women (therefore the practice of group shits); for these and many other complicated reasons including "outsider's" sense of hygiene, the private bathroom is often the top of the list in community development but the sewer system is not that great, so probably making it worse.... humanmanure bathrooms are so the way to go. Well, I should talk to you sometime and assemble information for people who will use this information well.

                It turned out i reached my limits in experiential research with the group shits-- I need to be alone. As for the private toilets themselves: don't ask, don't tell. Damn, it's lunch time, why am I going down this road!!

                I also just remembered something in Omnivore's Dilemma about farmer Joel (sp?) Salatin burying pig insides that are not eaten into the compost file.

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