Fig guild


This guild was developed for a White Adriatic Fig tree. The bare rooted tree was planted in 2016 with compost, tree starter and mycorrhiza.  The soil in the immediate vicinity is slightly clay. Soil testing of the broader site showed it to slightly acidic, with an excess of magnesium and a deficit of calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen. This guild has been designed based on interim drip line and has been planted in berm 2 of the Lyneham Commons in Canberra, Australia.

Fig guild

Species list

Common name Variety Botanical name
Parsnip Hollow crown Pastinaca sativa
Oregano Origanum vulgare
Thyme Common thyme Thymus vulgaris
Turkey thyme Thymus pulegioides ‘Westmoreland’
Wild thyme Thymus serpyllum 
Variegated lemon thyme Thymus x citriodorus
Goji Lycium barbarum
Purslane Portulaca oleracea var. sativa
Chicory Radicchio  
Yarrow Achillea millefolium

Disease and pests
Parsnip has been planted as pest deterrents. Similarly to the fig, they do not like nitrogen. Their roots inhibit weeds and their flowers are incredibly attractive to beneficial insects, including those that can aid in the management of coddling moth on the apple tree next to it, and the two others in berm 3.

Oregano has been planted as a ground cover and for the pest deterring qualities of its fragrance. A selection of thymes have been planted for variety, providing a weed suppressing ground cover that is drought tolerant and with a pest deterring fragrance.

Fig trees need a good supply of potassium which is to be accumulated by goji, purslane, chicory and yarrow. Oregano will also accumulate potassium in the soil.

Goji has been planted to accumulate potassium. Goji is native to the Himalayas and inner Mongolia where it has been grown for centuries for the medicinal properties of its berry. You can also eat the young shoots and leaves. It is the leaves that accumulate potassium. The plant grows fine in low quality soil and tolerates temperatures of -15o to over 40oC. It is a shrubby plant that lives for 5-8 years and will climb up a trellis if given the opportunity.

Purslane is a perennial native ground cover with tasty leaves. The domesticated variety has larger leaves and stays active a much longer portion of the year than the common variety. It is a good accumulator of potassium and is packed with a range of minerals and vitamins. It is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It needs to be grown in full sun.

There is a very large array of varieties of chicory suitable for this guild, some are perennial, some are annual. They range from cut and come again varieties for spring salads, to deep rooted varieties that can grow for over a year. A variety of these options will be planted depending on the time of year and the desires of Commoners.

Yarrow is a perennial medicinal herb, the flowers of which are used in relieving swelling and hormonal cramps, or made into a tea to help relieve the symptoms of cold and flu.

Figs do not like nitrogen. The companion plants have been chosen for their ability to provide other nutrients without adding nitrogen. However, this guild will be located on the edge of a polyculture that is planted with acacias and annual nitrogen fixing green manures.

Succession planning
The majority of chicory varieties are annual plants that will need to be replanted regularly. Goji responds well to winter pruning, which controls its sprawling growth habit and increases berry yields the following year. Many of the thyme plants also benefit from trimming to encourage new growth, and reduce straggliness. Soil testing will be repeated in coming years to identify any ongoing deficiencies or new soil issues that may need to be remedied.