The long term plan for this test plot is to leave the ground to nature when the saskatoon, seaberry, and hazel trees reach a large enough size that they have no trouble competing with undesirable weeds like thistles and perennial grasses. In the short term, since I don’t have much free time, I have been maintaining the test plot by planting vegetables and trimming back undesirable weeds to the ground (chop and drop). I only get out to do this about twice a year so it makes for a very unruly looking garden plot but the trees don’t seem to mind how it looks and are probably benefiting from these companion plants.

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On the left horse radish. Bee balm that looks to be frost damaged on the right.

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Jerusalem artichokes.

One important principle I learned from my study of permaculture is that if a piece of ground is left bare something will eventually occupy that space. Having bare dirt between rows of plants is very unnatural and the only way this state can be maintained is if someone physically removes the “weeds” or applies chemicals to the area. Planting companion plants you want along side your crops or mulching is a better option in these spaces, but remember, not all weeds are bad. Many weeds have beneficial effects on the soil and nearby plants. Dandy Lions, for instance, have a large tap root that helps to loosen compacted soil and bring up nutrients from the subsoil. Clovers and alfalfa feed nitrogen fixing bacteria and help to increase soil fertility.

Another walk through of my test plot after trimming the undesirable weeds back. A couple of new plants have been revealed.

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