Guild planting is the next step up from companion planting. In a healthy Ecosystem plants grow best alongside their buddies, and diversity is the key.
Just like a natural bushland, certain plants like to grow together, and certain plants don’t. Companion plants help each other grow healthier and stronger, they help to attract pollinators, reduce insect pests, improve soil fertility and ultimately produce more leaves, stems, flowers and fruits.
Guild planting is like planting out a mini ecosystem with ground covers, mid storey and over storey plants. All the plants within the guild are mutually beneficial.
Each guild can be planted out in an area ~ 2m x 2m or more. Not all plants listed are necessarily for eating but more about creating a food garden that is resilient, healthy and ultimately self-replenishing.
This can be a good way of dividing up your garden into different growing zones and you can also stagger the time for planting out each guild so that you get continual harvest instead of crop and chop, boom and bust. 3 guilds, 3 months, 1 guild per month.
The garden is planted so densely that the primary garden maintenance is pruning and harvesting food to allow space for the plants to grow as they mature. After 4 months or so you can then plant the next season guild in that area, so you end up with a guild rotation throughout the seasons.
Check out the “The Permaculture Home Garden” by Australian author Linda Woodrow for more ideas on guild planting and mandala gardens.
Here are some example guild plantings for Autumn and Winter with the recommended numbers of each plant per guild.