My Tree Guild Favorites

With the aide of my growing home library, I compiled a group of permaculture-inspired tree guilds. The plants used in my guilds are plants that I like to eat. So if you don’t see any kale, that’s because I think it is the most vile leaf known to man—but stick it in there when you see fit.

The plan is that someday our entire hügelkultur garden and orchard will utilize all of these guilds. In the meantime, feel free to use, share, and print any of my “cheat sheets”. Get out in that dirt and start something cool.

permaculture: a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, construction, and integrated water resources management that develops regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. “Permanent agriculture”.

tree guild: an arrangement of symbiotic plants that serve as a plant community for the benefit of the whole. A typical permaculture tree guild is defined by plants which fit into one of these functions: upper canopy tree (shade, mulch, traps humidity), lower canopy tree (same functions as the upper canopy, but shorter), herb, root, fungi, vine, bush, and ground cover.

Print-friendly versions can be found on the Printables page. 🙂

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8 thoughts on “My Tree Guild Favorites

  1. Awesome info! I always thought trees and fungi were a no-no so I surprised to see them together in the pictures. Can you tell me why these work together? Won’t the spores spread to the living tree? And would you ‘plant’ the fungi in already dead wood right? I’m very curious about mushroom growing in the backyard, but I have also heard of it spreading to the wood in your house! Any info or experience on that?

    • Ah ha! Yes, fungi and trees can work. I think the key is to 1.) have a healthy tree and 2.) use fungi types that feed on manure and not wood. The best, and easiest, mushrooms to grow under trees would be any type of oyster mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus or djamor and hypsizygus ulmarius), shaggy mane (coprinus comatus), and king stopharia (stropharia rugoso-annulata). These types grow well outdoors and also prefer straw and manure-mulch instead of wood. Steer clear of the wood lovers like shiitake, maitake, reishi, and turkey tail.

      I don’t have a whole lot of experience with mushrooms and am by no means an expert, but yes, most fungi will feed off of dead or unhealthy wood/trees. If you do want to plant mushrooms under a tree, I would let the tree get established first. It doesn’t need to be full grown or anything, but the mushrooms will require the shade provided by the tree in order to thrive.

      I will be starting a straw mushroom patch with King Stopharia in a couple weeks, so perhaps follow along and we will both learn something. 😉

  2. I should have put an asterisk on the “Like” because you’re dissing kale! 🙂 It’s a super food that has all kinds of super qualities. http://solarbeez.com/2012/05/08/kale-flowers/ It goes into one of my favorite soups. It grows well, will reseed itself, and is a great early food source for the bees. Forgive me on my rant about kale. 🙂

    • HAHAHAHA! I have to admit that I do have a few kale plants growing out there right now. I had a pack of assorted seeds gifted to me from my mother-in-law and it included kale. I thought it silly to throw away perfectly good seeds, so I planted them for the animals to eat. You are right though, kale is incredibly easy to grow and is packed full of vitamins. I just dislike the taste… very, very much.

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