Author Topic: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas  (Read 7260 times)

Offline ladieu

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ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« on: March 17, 2010, 02:12:01 PM »
I have a modest orchard of about 40 trees I am rehabbing this year.  Currently the floor of the orchard is mostly grass and weeds. I was thinking this year I would try to overseed it with some sort of beneficial ground cover.

The idea would be to provide a natural mulch layer and possibly other benefits such as pest control.

I tried to find information on this via google however my efforts have fallen short.

I am in 16066 (western pennsylvania)

Offline ladieu

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2010, 02:24:07 PM »
I'll start it off... i found this article which lists comfrey and clover...
http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Orchard.html

Offline spartan

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2010, 03:57:06 PM »
Here is a list of ground covers that will grow in partial and full shade, several of which are edible, medicinal, or otherwise useful.  You can try mixing and matching them to build your own guilds, with the full shade plants near the trunk, the partial-shade around the outer edge, with a climbing vine like Hardy Kiwi against the tree itself.

http://www.thegardenhelper.com/shadecovers.html

http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/hardy-kiwifruit.html

This is, however, just an analytical approach. I do not have direct experience with these.

Offline johngalt

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2010, 07:26:26 PM »
Don't know if this would apply or not, but I've heard that an orchard is the only place you don't want lots of vegetation on the ground....at least around the tree - as far out as the drip line.   I suppose it provides places for insect pests to harbor.  That being said, I plant garlic around my fruit trees as it is supposed to repel some boring pests....so far so good, and I harvest the scapes, and let the garlic go wild.  Someone said that if you have chickens, let them have the orchard as their run....they eat the pests, and scratch the ground bare, plus, if fruit drops, they get it and the grubs before you have infestation.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2010, 07:52:15 PM »
Grass and fruit trees usually don't get along so well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants#Apple

Offline ladieu

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2010, 07:18:01 AM »
The grass likes it... a lot! it grows waist high in there. As an aspiring permaculture person I am sure I should learn something from this observation.  I mowed it down this winter before the snow came... not my choice to have grass there... believe me... was thinking of legumes... like clover, however I read online that clover could compete with the trees for pollinators


Offline mngardener

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2010, 09:32:55 AM »
or bring more pollinators into your area long term.


Offline spartan

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2010, 09:46:56 AM »
or bring more pollinators into your area long term.

This was my thought as well after re-reading the thread.  From all my reading on apple trees, bees your best bet for pollinators.

If you wanted to go whole hog, you could put in some honey bee hives and start producing honey.  If that wouldn't work for you, you can also put in nests for mason bees, which are also very efficient pollinators.

Some information on Mason Bees from a local apiarist.
http://www.bjornapiaries.com/mason-bees.html

Quick and simple instructions for building and placing them.
http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Outdoor-Activities/Garden-for-Wildlife/Gardening-Tips/Build-a-Bee-House.aspx?CFID=26844192&CFTOKEN=fc3788e989ed2053-771DCAA3-5056-A868-A000DA3D75EAFB61
« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 09:52:44 AM by spartan »

Offline evilphish

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2010, 10:27:36 AM »
Pick up some books on permaculture, the one i'm reading gaia's garden has some interesting ideas on plantings with frut trees

Offline ladieu

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2010, 12:16:55 PM »
@spartan

- I do want to keep bees. That is a goal of mine, however I'm thinking this first year I will forgo that.  The mason bee thing is intriguing... will they swarm on me while I am harvesting apples LOL... I got stung about 50 times from kicking up a ground hive this past fall when i went back to take some pictures.  I'll read the link you sent and see what is up with them.

http://www.actahort.org/books/422/422_65.htm

@evilphish  - that book is on my reading list. I'm planning to take the free course on iTunes jack mentioned awhile back... just need to dig back through the episodes and find the info.

The main thing I want to do is control pests with this system...

Thanks for all the tips, I have a lot to think about


Offline spartan

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2010, 12:25:55 PM »
I did some looking, and Mason Bees are seen as very safe and docile.

Quote
As with other solitary bees, BOBs are gentle and shy. The female has a stinger (actually it is an egg guide), but she uses it only when in serious danger, as when she is purposely caught in the hand. Mason bees do not attack to defend their nest or arouse each other in alarm but simply flee when disturbed. Therefore, they are totally safe, even around children and pets.
http://entomologic.com/BOB/BOBinfo.html

Offline ladieu

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2010, 01:34:15 PM »
Cool article, I'm going to make a few bee houses for shits and giggles. We'll see what happens.

I'll put that on my list just above my bat house project (die mosquitoes die!!)


Offline Stein

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2010, 08:44:37 PM »
I have seen my share of orchards here in WA and they all seem to have short grass in them.  I don't know if it is intentional or if the grass just grows by itself.  Our orchard is in a natural part of our property that just grows whatever will grow over there.

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2013, 09:42:07 AM »
I'm looking into mason bees. Read somewhere a suggestion that you have insert in the holes so that you can take them out later and be able to get the cocoons to store away in the refrigerator for next season and move to more areas. Wondering if using cut sections of drinking straws would work.

Offline archer

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Re: ground cover for orchard.. looking for ideas
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2013, 09:59:47 AM »
mason bees are solitary bees and do not swarm at all (no colony). also, they are very mellow, you really really have to piss them off or sit on them to get them to sting.