Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Companion Planting for Organic Fruit Tree Care

Organic gardeners and environmentally conscious homeowners will do anything possible to avoid spraying trees with synthetic chemical compounds - especially fruit trees. Thankfully, anyone has the potential to combat common tree health problems while increasing yields with a simple method called companion planting.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a technique that takes advantage of the natural properties of certain plants, flowers, and weeds to combat pests and disease. Although it requires a little preliminary research and an understanding of local plant life, companion planting is one of the cheapest and most ecologically friendly methods of tree maintenance.

The key is to plant only native companions to avoid the threat of overgrowth or attraction of unfamiliar bugs and predators.

Naturally Improve Soil and Deter Pests

Many gardeners and homeowners have a somewhat unreasonable fear of weeds – spending hours uprooting and destroying each and every one. Next time, carefully select the varieties that are less of a nuisance and consider leaving them behind. Many small weeds present no competition to nearby native trees, and their presence and lifecycle actually help to improve soil conditions by preventing compaction and increasing water and air penetration.

Clover is a popular choice for companion planting with fruit trees – it provides essential nitrogen for neighboring plants, while inhibiting aphid spread by attracting desirable ground beetles. The flowers are also one of the main nectar sources for honeybees. Garlic is another popular favorite: it’s not only delicious, but also helps to accumulate sulfur as a natural fungicide to protect from diseases. Comfrey accumulates phosphorus, potassium, and calcium while keeping the soil rich and moist.

So, want to save money on maintenance, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides by next year? Start researching native companion plants to improve tree health today! Whether you want to plant a new tree or rejuvenate an old one, there is no such thing as too late to introduce some beneficial plant life companions!

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