Monday 11 September 2023

Polycultures Profiles - Perennial Support Polyculture - Tree Dish - Ninurta

Welcome to our Polyculture Profile series. During this post, we'll look at a simple tree dish planting, combining flowering bulbs and beneficial herbs to support a fruit or nut tree.

It may be helpful to look over this Polyculture Profile Layout post before or after reading the profile, where we provide a description of the profile layout and some general notes to consider, should you wish to try and grow the polyculture yourself.

Ninurta - Perennial Support Polyculture 

Compatible Climate(KCC): C - D

USDA hardiness: 5 - 10

Water needs: Drought tolerant - N.B. water for tree at the center of the polyculture will be required.

Light preferences: Full Sun - Semi Shade 

Soil preferences: Light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) 

Suitable pH: Acid, neutral and alkaline

Layout: Island 

Ninurta is a small support polyculture for tree dish planting, i.e. planting under young trees. It includes two components - a bulb layer of spring and autumn flowering bulbs, and a herb layer of herbs that are attractive to a range of borgs (beneficial organisms) and can be used medicinally as well as in the kitchen. 

Overview Image 

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Functional components 

Productive potential - kitchen herb oregano - Origanum vulgare can be harvested throughout the growing season and yarrow can be harvested for teas and the flowers for drying.

Fertility potential - the bulb component of the polyculture can serve as a mineral dam during the dormant months, capturing nutrients before they leach through the soil profile and depositing them on the surface as the shoot tissue of the bulbous plants decomposes during the growing season and making these nutrients available to the fruit tree and surrounding herbs. 

Habitat potential - the flowering bulbs provide an early and late source of nectar for pollinating insects. The herbs provide extended flowering periods, attracting a range of pollinators and pest predators that can offer support in the productive garden.

 Access - the access to this polyculture is around the perimeter of the bed and should be a minimum of 50cm wide. Bare earth, grass or other ground cover pathways are suitable. 

Species list   


Herb and bulb planting should follow the planting of the central tree.

The bulbs can be placed after the tree and herbs are in, and planted in the gaps between the plants, preferably not too close to the tree stem to avoid collar rot. 


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