So last time, I attempted to form my first plant guild. I chose honeyberries as my central species, because I knew they were yummy, and I have a source for getting cuttings from multiple species.
Our new assignment this week is to make an edible plant guild for our property. After reviewing my previous attempt, I realized that I didn’t really take into account individual plant needs like soil conditions and sun requirements. Thus, here is my second attempt at guild-building, this time centered around three berry species that I envision building the backbone of my berry patch.
My central species are the Saskatoon Serviceberry (which can be pruned to have a more tree-like form, and are available this year in the annual Fairbanks Soil and Water District plant sale!), Kiska raspberries (also available at the sale), and honeyberries (of at least three species). The Serviceberries will serve as my upper story, the honeyberries and raspberries will form the shrubby mid-ground, and the support species are generally all understory-type plants.
The support species have been chosen to fit certain niches in the micro-environment. The honeyberries and Serviceberries can tolerate a bit of shade, as can lupines, yarrow, and lamb’s quarter. The raspberries, borage, hyssop, and coneflower need full sun. They all prefer or can tolerate a slightly acidic soil (the overlap for most of these is around 6). The lupines and clover fix nitrogen in the soil, which berries are particularly hungry for (thus the substitution of clover for strawberries as a groundcover). Lupines, lamb’s quarters, yarrow, and borage are dynamic accumulators, and together bring up and accumulate N, P, K, Si, Ca, Mn, and Cu (however, I’m mostly concerned with the Nitrogen here). The flowering plants are beneficial insect attractors (including pollinators, who I need for my berries!). I think some of the shade tolerant support species could be grown interstitially between the bigger shrubs, but honeyberries are so dense, I don’t know if they would get enough light. Below is a graphical representation of where I think everyone will go, followed by a table containing information about the involved species.