What to plant apple trees under a tree for beauty and maximum benefit
On a small summer cottage, where every square centimeter of usable area counts, a good owner cannot afford to leave free space under each fruit tree. However, the problem is that in the shadow created by the dense crown, most plants, both cultivated and ornamental, feel rather ill. We will tell in more detail about what can be planted under apple trees so that it is both beautiful and useful from an agrotechnical point of view.
The conditions that the crown of the tree creates
The crown of an adult apple tree grown on seed stock in diameter can reach 6–6.5 m. At the same time, proper care of the tree involves regular pruning, aimed, among other things, to thin out the crown.
This is necessary so that all fruit branches receive uniform and intense lighting, without which normal crop ripening is impossible.
In addition, the fight against excessive thickening of the crown is aimed at ensuring good air exchange in the branches, which, in turn, is an additional protection of the tree from various diseases and pests.
Thus, the apple tree in the country provides its owner with more than six square meters of scattered shadow, which is simply a sin not to use: any gardener knows how difficult it is sometimes to protect delicate flowers, berries or vegetables from direct rays of the hot July sun.
To do this, it is necessary to equip special canopies that require additional effort, financial costs and, in addition, often disfigure the site. The use of usable space under the tree allows you to easily and effectively solve this problem.
However, not all so simple. The fact is that the apple tree is not only a shadow. The active root system of the fruit tree has a very serious effect on the soil, and this concerns its composition, structure, and moisture.
Therefore, when choosing plants that can be used to plant the area of the near-trunk circle, it is necessary to take into account not only the degree of their shade tolerance and moisture lovingness, but also the requirements for the composition of the soil, that is, in other words, their compatibility with the apple tree. In agricultural science, this term is called allelopathy.
Important! The term "allelopathy" comes from two ancient Greek words - "allelon" (ἀλλήλων), which means "mutually", and "pathos" (πάθος), that is, suffering. It is customary to understand the property of plants or other living organisms to negatively affect each other due to the release of certain chemical compounds (toxins, phenolic compounds, volatile, alkaloids, etc.).
For example, the root system of an apple tree, especially an old one, supersaturates the earth with the glycoside florizin, which inhibits the development of other stone fruit crops, as well as plants such as rose, viburnum or lilac.
On the other hand, potatoes release substances into the soil that block the uptake of nitrogen by the apple tree (a lack of nitrogen, in turn, slows down the formation of green mass, inhibits photosynthesis, that is, prevents the tree from developing normally). Thus, neither potatoes, nor lilacs, nor roses should be planted within the distribution of the apple root system.
Here are a few more examples. In the shade of an apple tree, or rather, in the soil, which is affected by the root system of the tree, peas, soy, corn and wheat will feel depressed, and the last two crops are especially strong.
And, on the contrary, the golden currant will oppress the apple tree, although it itself is stimulated by the apple tree and forms especially thick and tall (up to 1.8 m) bushes.With regard to blackcurrant, the situation is ambiguous: some gardeners claim that this shrub suppresses the apple tree, while others refute this opinion, citing their own positive experience.
Important! The roots of the apple tree are located close to the surface and grow not in depth, but in breadth. The area they occupy may be 2-3 times larger than the projection of the crown of a tree.
From all that has been said, one fundamental conclusion follows: before planting one or another plant in the shade of an apple tree, you need to clearly know how they will act on the tree and how the tree will act on them, and the answers to these questions are far from obvious.
Moreover, when drawing up a planting scheme on a site, you need to remember that the crown (and the shadow cast by it) is just the aerial part of the plant, while plants that “intersect” with each other also have a mutual influence on each other underground.
In other words, the allelopathy of the apple tree spreads over a much larger area than the shadow cast by the crown of the tree creates.
Video: Do I need to plant flowers or vegetables under the trees
What can be planted under apple trees in the garden
Choosing plants for planting under an apple tree, a summer resident can be guided by various considerations.
In particular, the space under the tree can be used to continue the garden, under the flower bed or lawn - another common option, as a way to care for the tree itself, aimed at recapturing the territory from weeds, which are pedigree and reserve different problems.
Did you know? Parsley is sometimes called female greens, and dill is male. In this case, parsley acts on the nervous system as a pathogen, while dill, on the contrary, promotes relaxation.
The easiest option for rational use of the land under the apple tree is to plant greenery under it. However, it must be borne in mind that not all types of spicy herbs are undemanding to lighting.
The following information can be used as a hint:
|Photophilous types of greenery||Undemanding types of greenery|
Planting well under the apple tree of garlic, especially winter. In this case, the root system of the tree receives additional protection from rats, moles and mole rats, which are scared away by the sharp smell of garlic, while the penumbra culture develops quite normally, and according to some summer residents, it forms even larger heads than when planting it in the sun .
As a protection from the sun, some gardeners try to use the crown of an apple tree when growing peas and beans, while also solving the problem with the garter of these climbing plants (the lower branches of the tree act as a support in this case).
Pea, as was said, does not tolerate the neighborhood with an apple tree. However, this problem can be solved by planting it in a "high" bed, built, for example, from old boxes. A very good selection for the apple tree is the pumpkin family vegetables.
Their root system is superficial and does not compete with the roots of the tree, but these plants perfectly protect against weeds near-stem circle.
Therefore, agricultural technology for growing apple trees even provides for planting this type of crop under a tree as one of the options for caring for the soil. However, there is one problem: most pumpkin are very photophilous. Melons, watermelons, squash and, in fact, pumpkins in the shade grow small and tasteless.
But cucumbers in the scattered shadow of the apple crown can be planted. It is only important that the tree is formed correctly, and the lower fruit branches do not slope to the ground.It is known that cucumbers very poorly tolerate water on the leaves (you always need to water them under the root), in this sense the crown protecting the whips from rain is also very useful.
As for the other pumpkin, they can also be planted under a tree, but only in those areas where there are significant gaps between the branches. Tomatoes growing under its crown can bring good benefits to the apple tree, because, as has been noticed, their smell repels some pests, in particular, the apple moth.
However, for the tomatoes themselves, very fond of bright lighting, such a place is not suitable. Harvest from them can be obtained only in the southern and fertile regions, such as, for example, the Ukrainian Kherson.
Therefore, the experience of summer residents, planting bushes of tomato seedlings under the apple trees, which could not find a place in the garden, as well as remote stepchildren, who did not raise their hand, can be recognized as rational and rational.
Photophilous beets, carrots or root celery under the trees will not grow well, but such a plot is quite suitable for radishes. Strawberries and strawberries do not compete with the root system of the apple tree, but they should be planted outside the area onto which the shadow of the crown casts, because in the shade the berries pick up color very slowly and significantly lose their taste.
The same applies to grapes: the vine needs a lot of light, but its roots go vertically down, and the roots of the tree do not interfere. As for the shrubs, they can not be planted close to the apple tree, as a general rule. Perhaps the only exception is raspberry cuttings.
As long as the bush does not take shape and gain strength, it can be "grown" in a saving shadow, there will be no harm from it to him or the tree. However, then to get full fruits, the bush needs to be transplanted to the illuminated area.
Herbs and other crops
A lot of summer residents dream of having a beautiful and well-kept lawn in their area, where you can relax while enjoying the fresh greenery of perennial grass. However, implementing such plans is not easy, since almost all the free space is occupied by the garden.
A small area under the crown of a tree can reconcile the desire for beauty and the plan for collecting fresh vegetables, if you use it for planting meadow herbs (there is even a special term for this - tinning the orchard). I must say that the formation of the lawn under the trees is not only decorative, but also quite practical.
- In particular, this method provides:
- soil protection against weeds, which constantly need to be combated;
- preservation and retention of moisture in the ground (an alternative is mulching, but the result does not look so beautiful);
- increased soil breathability (tree roots are better enriched with oxygen, absorb more nutrients, photosynthesis processes are stimulated);
- improving the composition of the soil, including the removal of excess salts from it, saturating it with nitrogen, etc.
- elimination of the risk of damage to the root system of the tree, which always arises in the process of "grandmother's" methods of caring for the trunk circle - digging, weeding, loosening;
- protection of falling apples from pollution and damage (fruits that have fallen on soft and thick grass may well retain their commercial qualities for several hours, while falling on bare ground, they rot very quickly and are affected by pests, especially ants) .
There is a generally accepted list of several types of herbs that are best suited for tinning the garden. In various combinations, they are used in the preparation of lawn mixtures, which today are presented in a huge assortment.
Important! Till the soil only under trees on a seed stock, that is, those that are grafted onto seedlings of a cultivated apple tree.This method is not suitable for a clonal stock, which is a variety that propagates vegetatively (usually apple trees are grafted on them, since such a stock is more hardy and stable).
The list of such herbs includes:
- white clover;
- clover "Nanook" (white creeping);
- meadow bluegrass;
- sheep fescue;
- red fescue;
- meadow fescue;
- Polevoshnaya shoot;
- pasture ryegas.
It is worth noting that white clover is a good honey plant, therefore, being under a tree, it will attract bees and contribute to better pollination, and, consequently, subsequent fruiting. Also good news is that clover repels many soil pests that eat up the root system of a tree.
Another way to rationally use the space under the fruit tree is to build a spectacular flower bed there. With the correct selection of the composition for such a flower garden, two tasks can be solved at once: to decorate the site and protect the tree from certain adverse factors.
Important! It is undesirable to plant a periwinkle under an apple tree, because its powerful and branched root system competes with a tree and, surprisingly, suppresses it. For the same reason, lilies of the valley are a bad choice, in addition, they create high thickets in which it is difficult to look for falling fruits.
Here are just a few examples of how beautiful flowers can bring additional benefits to the apple tree if you plant them in its shadow:
|Marigolds||They have a fungicidal (antifungal) effect, scare away many pests, including nematodes, as well as the ubiquitous ants, which are almost impossible to get rid of on the plot, and that harm garden plants by planting aphids on them.|
|Calendula||It is not tolerated by most harmful insects, but it is very attractive to ladybugs - the main natural protectors of the garden from aphids.|
|Nasturtium||The tree is protected from the invasion of leaf beetles, whiteflies, bugs, until late autumn they retain moisture in the soil no worse than any mulch.|
|Celandine||Very reliable protection against ants and, accordingly, aphids, in addition, substances released by the celandine into the air act on aphids as sleeping pills.|
|Tansy||It scares away many insects, including the moth and aphid.|
Decorative and capricious flowers for growing under garden trees are also not very suitable, because they require special care, the technology of which may not coincide with what is needed for the normal development of the garden. For example, trees do not like frequent watering, and without it, any exquisite flowerbed will quickly wither.
On the other hand, the amount of water that needs to be poured under each tree, say, during the laying of fruits, may be excessive for many tender plants. And yet, the list of colors that are suitable for forming a flower bed in the shade of an apple tree is truly huge.
You can safely include in it:
- viola (pansies);
- Indian dusheney (a close relative of strawberries, but with inedible fruits);
- female coder;
- a swimsuit;
- meadow flax;
- male thyroid.
Did you know? Our ancestors believed that if a pregnant woman at least briefly stands under an apple tree, childbirth will be easy, and the baby will be born strong and healthy.
Compiling various combinations of plants that are so different in structure, size, color and timing of flowering is the best way to relax, realize your creativity and give inspiration.
Among other plants that are suitable for planting under fruit trees, siderates should be mentioned first.These annual or perennial herbs that saturate the soil with nitrogen and other elements important to garden crops. After the season ends, siderates should not be removed from the site.
They must either be left for natural decay, or, previously chopped, used as mulch. Classic examples of green manure are lupins, buckwheat, alfalfa, beans, and white mustard, which, in addition, is also a honey plant.
Finally, you can decorate the near-trunk area around the apple tree with bosquets (decorative sheared hedges) from undersized shrubs such as euonymus or pachisander.
Miniature and dwarf conifers will look even more impressive, for example:
- Canadian spruce Konika;
- western thuja - Herts Midget, Reingold;
- Hudson's balsam fir;
- Lavson Cypress Minim Aurea;
- Juniper - Compress, Mayeri;
- mountain pine - Pug, Gnome, Mini Mini, Winter Gold, Cactus, Frodo, etc.
Did you know? One of the most unusual conifers grows in North America. It is called the Lambert pine or sugar pine and is known for its cones reaching a length of 50 cm, and the resin contains such a quantity of sugar that the natives are happy to use it for food.
Features of proper planting of plants under the apple tree
Choosing plants to fill the space under the fruit tree, it is difficult for an ordinary summer resident to take into account all the rules of compatibility.
In order to prevent gross errors, one must nevertheless observe the following generally accepted norms:
- The near-trunk space should always be filled only with cultures that have a shallow root system.
- Pome seeds and stone plants do not get along with the apple tree.
- Plant protection against diseases and pests is often associated with the use of potent pesticides (fungicides, acaricides, insecticides). The period during which processing is allowed is directly related to the time of harvest. When planting edible crops under an apple tree, you need to think about this in advance so that, for example, when fighting caterpillars on a tree, you will not poison the fruits of early cucumbers.
- Digging the earth in the zone of location of the root system of the apple tree can be no deeper than half the bayonet of the shovel, and it is better to use forks instead.
- When planting plants under a tree, you should leave a free area within a radius of at least 20 cm from the root neck, and if the tree is grafted onto a dwarf rootstock, this parameter should be increased to 1 m.
- Choosing the suitable type of plants for planting under the apple tree, you should make sure that their cover protects the fruits from falling, but at the same time does not interfere with their search and collection (in particular, you need to think about where the stairs will be placed during the harvesting season, whether it will be possible freely approach the tree so as not to destroy the flower bed or trample the salad, etc.).
- The lower branches of the apple tree, if they do not bear fruit, must be removed in advance so that they do not interfere with the development of other crops.
Proper and rational use of land under fruit trees allows an experienced summer resident to carve out an additional 20-30% of the free area, which is very important for small areas.
As a result, even in a very limited space, you can equip a full-fledged garden, and a spectacular flower bed, and a relaxation area. It is only important to learn how to properly plan the placement of plants on your "hacienda", as well as know the elementary rules for their compatibility.