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I have a couple of apple trees on very dwarfing (M27) rootstock, than I have planted into patio containers, approximately 50 litres each, with a top diameter around 50cm.

I am wondering whether I should plant anything around the edges of the container under the apple trees.

I was thinking of either strawberries, or some herbs, but was wondering whether they should have the container to themselves and cover the ground with bark mulch or something.

I'm in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The containers get good sun in summer, but not much in winter as there is a building to the SW of them which the Sun doesn't get over during the winter.

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I wouldn't recommend planting anything else around the base of the trees - even when planted in the ground, its always recommended that there is a clear, unplanted space around new trees for a clear 30-40cm all round, and for those on dwarfing rootstocks, this space around the trunk should be kept clear for 3-5 years. This is to prevent competition by other plants for nutrients and water, and if they're in pots, root room. You can use bark chips if you like as a mulch around, but pebbles or gravel will do just as well if you feel you must cover the soil in the pots with something, though it's by no means essential to do so.

Plant your strawberries/herbs elsewhere, either in separate pots or the ground.

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