All permaculture books emphasize the need for guilds around trees. The guilds are the collection of plants that work together to support the tree and each other. Even through the books have diagrams on how to build them, I was still confused (maybe it’s that first level of learning thing!). Today, we built one together with our coach, David Homa, who came down for the day, and now I understand! It is so cool.
8) Now you have a line of circles — the allium rings with the trees in the center, and the Comfrey plant circles. In the spaces left by these circles, put your other herbs and flowers. Mix in ones that are aromatic to deter pests, that attract pollinators, accumulate more minerals. David suggested we use yarrow, echinacea, chamomile, borage, calendula, but for more options, see lists for “Attractors”, “Repellers” and “Accumulators” in the same article.
Results added in April, 2022
Ah -- we never did report back did we? And now the exact outcome is lost in the mists of time -- however, I recall the general outcome. The horse manure was not a super good weed suppressant (it was ok-ish), but neither was the newspaper, so it was a wash. The manure did however, retain moisture nicely. Ultimately, the best guard against weed pressure has been dense growth of the plants we want - for example a single comfrey grows to about 3 ft in diameter and will totally smother anything around it- then it dies back in the winter and the nutrients from all those great leaves go into the soil. The alliums we planted also did really well, making dense patches. We do still end up pulling plants that we don't want, but only about twice a season, so it's not too bad. Nature seems to have the insatiable need to fill every inch of fertile soil with a plant - this will be the grace that saves our planet from our follies. So cover your soil with plants you love!
Regarding the fruit trees - we made a big mistake and removed the wire cages around the base from the juvenile trees in year 3, and critters ate the bark during the winter, killing all of them. Big Booboo. We have some more trees to plant this Spring.