Fruit trees are a popular choice for any garden. Not only are they a good way of providing shade, but they can also provide a place for birds and wildlife to live. But will planting vegetables beneath the fruit tree help it flourish?
Vegetables can be planted under fruit trees. They will provide a natural way of managing weeds and increase nutrients in the soil. The key to this system is choosing the right mix of vegetables to support the growth of the fruit tree.
There are lots of simple things that you can do to help your garden grow. But using companion planting techniques could be one of the most effective ways to help them grow. Read on to learn more about this system and how you can make it work for your garden.
Can You Plant Fruits and Vegetables Together?
When you are putting in a fruit tree, it can be tempting to keep other plants away from it. After all, you don’t want anything that can compete with the roots. But this might not always be the best idea. When done properly, planting fruits and vegetables together can bring a range of benefits. This is known as companion planting or guild planting.
Benefits of Companion Planting
There are plenty of reasons why you might want to consider introducing companion planting in your garden. These can include;
- Conserving moisture in the soil
- Providing beneficial nutrients for the tree
- Attracting insects to aid with pollination
- Protecting the fruit tree from harmful pests
- Stopping the weeds from growing
While most of these benefits focus on the fruit tree, the growth of the vegetables can also be enhanced. For example, the tree can provide a windbreak. As it grows, it will shed its leaves. These can act as a good fertilizer for the vegetables. If the tree dies, you can use the log as a trellis, which the vegetables will be able to climb.
Pick the Right Vegetables
Now that we know a little more about some of the benefits of companion planting, let’s talk more about how you can implement this idea. First, you’ll need to select the right vegetables. Think about the conditions that they will face under the tree. Often, the vegetables will get a limited amount of sunlight. You’ll also need to consider the weather conditions. Remember, the temperature will often be lower under the tree.
You’ll also need to think about how you take care of your tree. How much water do you typically apply? Do you put mulch around it? You’ll need to find a vegetable species that will be able to cope with these conditions.
Usually, this will mean that your choice of vegetables is limited. But there are still a few species that will fit the bill. These can include;
- Lemon Grass
Sometimes, it can take a few tries to find the right vegetables for your fruit tree. But once you do, they will flourish. The vegetables should last for as long as the fruit tree does.
It should be noted that you might want to use multiple vegetables. For example, you might want to have something like comfrey to draw nutrients from the soil. You can pair this with garlic, which is known for having anti-fungal properties. A flowering vegetable can be used to attract pollinators.
While vegetables can be a good option, you might also want to think about adding some flowers. These can add a little more color to the garden. A few of the most popular options include things like marigolds. If possible, you want to try perennials. Picking things that flower seasonally will increase the workload. You’ll need to dedicate a lot of time to trim them back.
Avoid Overcrowding the Garden
One of the biggest mistakes that amateur gardeners make is overcrowding the space. You need to leave each plant enough space to take root on its own. If you don’t, they will need to fight over the limited resources. When this happens, you’ll notice that a lot of the vegetables will die off. Because of the limited sunlight, it’s best to space them out a little more than you ordinarily would.
This advice also applies when deciding where you want to put a fruit tree. You don’t want the trees to be too close. If they are, they might start to block out the sun. There is also the risk that their root systems will crowd each other out. The species will determine how far apart they will be. For example, dwarfs can be closer than full trees.
This table, though, can give you a good indication.
|Tree Species||Recommended Spacing Distance|
|Apple||9 to 11 meters|
|Sweet Cherries||9 meters|
If you want to develop a large plot, with several species, you should try to put ones that have similar requirements next to each other. This will make it a lot easier to maintain. For example, they will often have the same water and soil requirements.
Caring For Your Vegetables and Fruit Trees
One of the biggest benefits of companion planting is how easy it is for you to care for. But that doesn’t mean that this garden will be completely maintenance-free. There are still a few essential tasks that need to be completed.
First, you’ll need to make sure that you are providing the right nutrients. It can be a good idea to take some soil readings. This will tell you what nutrients the soil is lacking. Usually, you’ll need to improve the soil by adding mulch. The best time to do this is in the spring.
When you are adding compost, you’ll need to spread it out evenly amongst all the plants. One of the most common mistakes that gardeners form a mound around the base of the tree. This can trap the moisture and increase the chances that fungus will form on the trunk.
Most vegetables and fruit trees will need to be trimmed occasionally. It’s usually best to do this during the spring. As you’re doing this, you’ll need to remove dead branches and leaves. This ensures that the plant will be able to direct its resources to create new growth.
You must keep monitoring the companion planting. This will let you make small adjustments to increase its efficiency. For example, you might notice that a new pest species is attacking the plants. In this case, you might need to add some new vegetables to your plot.
Finally, you’ll need to make sure that you are adding enough water. The amount that you’ll need to put on the garden will depend on the type of tree you are cultivating. Remember to take the natural weather conditions into account. For example, if you have had a lot of overnight rain, you won’t need to water the tree the next day. To make watering easier, you can get a tap timer. This will allow you to automate the process of watering your garden.
Companion gardening can be a good way of lowering the maintenance associated with growing a fruit tree. As long as you choose the right mix of vegetables, you’ll be able to offer some protection against weeds and pests. You will also be able to increase the number of nutrients in the soil. Plus, you’ll be able to get a range of delicious vegetables. So, put these tips to the test by vegetables under your fruit today.