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Bracken Ferns

Posted by Dave Strnad 
Bracken Ferns
August 01, 2013 04:11AM
Are Bracken Ferns good, bad, or indifferent in a holistic orchard? I am establishing an orchard, some of my trees are in first leaf others in second. Soil very sandy in need of build up and I have started to bring in rotting wood chips, each tree has a 6' diameter ring with a goal of complete coverage. I have noticed that the trees growing in the dense ferns seem behind the trees in bare sand which is not what I expected as the soil in the ferns is darker with more organic matter etc. Could the ferns be stunting the growth of my trees? Is this due to competition or some other factors? I do try to keep mulch rings clear, however the fern roots seem to be under the entire area.

Thank you for any input.

Getting Started, 70 trees in the ground more to come.
Apples, Peaches, Plums, Cherries, Pears, etc.
Zone 4-5a depending on zone map.
Sandy Soil
Near Traverse City, MI
Growing for family and future income.
Re: Bracken Ferns
August 23, 2013 12:44AM
Bracken Ferns here in the West are known to emit allelopathic compounds into the surrounding soil to limit their competition. By design, these chemicals will reduce the vigor and stunt the growth (sometimes severely) of most any plant that comes into contact with it.

I would highly suspect this is what is going on with your situation.

The rich humus within the fern ground sounds nice, but there are many other understory plant solutions for creating the same rich lively soil environment.

Good luck

Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
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