Ideas for a Maple Guild?

So I’ve got this Silver Maple tree standing by itself in the backyard.  It’s a baby, being maybe 14-16 feet tall at the most, and it was put in by the landscapers last spring.   Having read and bought into permaculture, I’d like to put a small guild of companion plants around it.  My pressing need is for soil improvement, so some nitrogen-fixers and soil miners are in order.

Does anyone have some suggestions?   I’ve got the books and will go digging through there for ideas, but I’ve been busy with other things and I’d hope this would start a conversation.

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7 Responses to Ideas for a Maple Guild?

  1. bewing says:

    Greetings, the following are herbs that flower in the Spring and may dow ell with your silver maple:

    Skunk Cabbage – Symplocarpus foetidus
    Wild Ginger – Asarum canadense
    Violets – Violas sp.
    Dandelion – Taraxacum officinalis
    Blue Cohosh – Caulophyllum thalictroides

    MID MAY

    Shepherds Purse – Capsella bursa-pastoris
    Trilliums – Trillium sp.
    Marsh Marigolds – Caltha palustris
    Ground Ivy – Glechoma hederacea

    LATE MAY
    Common Chickweed – Stellaria medica
    Mandrake – Podophyllum peltatum
    White Baneberry – Actaea alba
    Red Baneberry – Actaea rubra
    Solomon Seal – Polygonatum pubescens
    Hawthorn – Crateagus sp.
    Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana
    False Elder – Sambucus pubens

    I have not had time to cull the list to determine which are most suitable for a permaculture guild but this list gives a starting point.

  2. Bart says:

    That gives me a good start on research… I’m still very new to idea of guilds and how to create them.

    Thanks much!

  3. Beo says:

    Nitrogen fixers will of course be critical. I use native false indigo’s heavily in my perrenial beds for that purpose, and I plan on sowing white dutch clover (or purple prairie clover for nativeness) heavily in between the transplants to be a living mulch, fight the lawn, and fertilize. Biomass plants like daylilies (also edible) or russian comfrey play critical roles in my guild plans as well-but fruit trees have shallower roots and benifit more from mulch. For edibles, bewing’s list is great, and I would through in some bramble fruit and maybe some hazelnuts into the shrub layer for wildlife habitat.

    For a tree that size I would consider planting some n-fixing trees near by-like some redbuds (not sure f they like it as far north as you…) or larger n-fizing shrubs like the goumi which are thriving in the first season here and have edible fruit. I have wretched soil so fertility work is very high on my list.

  4. Bart says:

    I’ll check out the Goumi. The maple is planted near the middle of the backline of our lot, and there are clumps of pines in both corners. I think more trees back there would be overkill. Some shrubs, on the other hand…

    I’ll spend some time this weekend looking up the list of herbs that Bewing provided and see what looks promising, and look at the Goumi and perhaps some other similar bushes.

    I’m hoping to get this stuff in sometime in the spring or summer. The #1 priority is to get the veggie garden in.

  5. Beo says:

    ForestFarm.com has the best selection of Goumi I have found (with a 500 page book for a catalog they have, well, everything). One note I just discovered-you will need to fence them in the winter. Mine have all been heavily browsed by the suicidal thirll junkie rabbit that braves our 160lbs of greyhounds just to dine in my yard…

  6. You need some good old fashion muck, to improve the soil around the tree. You don’t even have to dig it in if you don’t want to. Let the worms do it for you.

  7. Bart says:

    Hi Valerie,

    Thanks for leaving a comment… would you care to elaborate?

    By ‘muck’ are you talking about just the stuff that rings the edge of ponds and the like?

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