Question: I'd like to plant some fruit trees on a field that soybeans grew on last year. The field is barren now, but I'm concerned that weeds will grow inbetween the trees. What kind of ground cover can I plant to inhibit weed growth and help the fruit trees? I was thinking of planting pumpkins and watermelons there the first year.
Answer: Usually, orchard trees do best without the competition a ground cover would provide. Instead, it is better to mulch around them with an organic mulch which will feed the soil as it breaks down. While the trees are small you may be able to grow other crops between them, but you will risk disturbing the tree roots if you cultivate too close to the trees, and as the trees grow they will create too much shade for most sun loving vegetables.
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