Edible ground covers

peskymac(z6 Delco, PA)May 7, 2008

Over the weekend my husband asked for my help outside - he had decided to trim a section of our front yard, which is steep and covered in ivy. "I went a little crazy," he said.

Yeah, he did. He completely tore out every single plant in the bed, roots and all. Luckily, none of it was anything I was particularly attached to.

As we cleaned up, we talked about what we should plant in the bed. He was thinking Vinca or Phlox, something spreading. The more I think about it, though, the more I'd like to plant something edible.

Perennial herbs are a nice choice. Lingonberry or cranberry would work, I think. No doubt someone here will have other great ideas for edible ground covers.

Anyone with suggestions?

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How shady and moist a spot is this? Unless this slope is at the edge of a body of water, cranberry probably isn't an option. Wintergreen might be an option if the spot isn't in full sun. A lowbush blueberry might be an option, but you may have trouble finding a source, since most cultivated varieties are highbush - meaning tall.

If the area is contained by buildings or sidewalk, you could go with mint or strawberry, which are agressive growers. (Or plant both, and watch them do battle.)

You might find something you like at the link below, but unfortunately it looks like most of what they sell are shrubs or trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: yummy plants

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 10:46AM
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peskymac(z6 Delco, PA)

Partially shady in spots, and not particularly naturally moist most of the time. At the top of the slope, there's a thin concrete walk and at the bottom is the side walk.

Thanks for that link!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:02PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Would you need to consider stabilizing the soil the bed so it didn't slide down? If you can terrace to allow for easier watering, you could consider a variety of shrubby edibles, including perhaps currants or gooseberries. Or passion fruit "Incense" or P. incarnata (Maypop), both of which will root where they touch the ground. With the latter two, you may wish to consider whether the fruits would become a food source for rodents.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 4:37PM
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If you're looking for an edible ground cover, what about Purslane? I have an area where I let it grow in my yard. If it starts to get a little out of control, I just pick some and eat it. I like to saute it in a little butter or bacon fat.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:50AM
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garland(Z9 California)

For several years I've planted parsley in a row, but this year, one plant grew tall and went to seed and now I have parsley coming up thick like a ground cover and many of the other young parsley plants are also going to seed. I like to add chopped parsley to soups, sauted vegetables, and roasts for flavor and color. I think it would serve pretty well as an edible ground cover. Just pull out the unnecessary taller ones going to seed to keep the ground cover at about 10-12 inches high.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 4:13PM
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Hartmanns Plant Company has groundcover blueberries. They are supposed to be for zones 3-7, so they might work in your area. They have lingonberries too. One Green World has a wide variety of unusual plants, including lingonberries. I think both sources have groundcover raspberries...tiny little plants about 6' tall with wonderfully flavored berries.

Here is a link that might be useful: blueberry source

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 4:10PM
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As the first follow-up person mentioned, wintergreen is pretty and different. I can supply plants with roots. The plant has a nice waxy, deep green leaf and spreads alot, especially if there are leaves on the surface. It produces a small red berry which has an unusual wintergreen taste. It's very unusual for a berry because there's no tartness.
If you are interested in some, I'm looking for paw paws or hardy kiwis or anything else that's edible and will grow in northern NY zone 4. Let me hear from you if you want to trade BC08@localnet.com (that's BCzeroeight). Thanks - Bill

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 4:36PM
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Box huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera)likes partially shaded areas, and only grows to about 1 1/2 ' high. Strawberries make a nice ground cover, but like a lot of sun.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 3:53PM
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Flowerhen(z4 Maine)

I vote for the Strawberries !!!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 3:49PM
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How about prostrate rosemary?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 11:09AM
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Can a strawberry patch be started now, or must one wait for spring? I'm in NJ, 6B.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 8:57AM
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arugula(4/5 Wisconsin)

Low-growing thyme like elfin is lovely and walkable, to some extent.

Could someone say more about the lingonberries? Are they really low enough for a groundcover? How much maintenance to they need, meaning, are they finicky with moisture, soil?


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 1:43PM
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Can anyone suggest a very (as in extremely) low-maintenance, able to handle a minimal traffic, partial shade to shade (North side of house), hillside, edible ground cover for zone 7 (Memphis Area, TN)?
Thanks so much!!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 8:30AM
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Wintergreen might fit your description. They can survive in partial shade and shade. The berries are edible, but I don't know if they are high in nutrition.

Hartmann's nursery in lower Michigan and Jung's in Wisconsin carry the plants: www.hartmannsplantcompany.com and www.jungs.com. Although, you can probably find nurseries closer to your area that carry this plant. Wintergreen, like blueberries, prefers an acidic, well drained soil.

Hope this helps!

Nora Belle

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 5:54PM
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I'd like to echo the purslane choice; for me, it grows like a weed (which I guess it is), but very tasty (especially sauteed) & very nutritious. Then, again, I'm trying to get an affinity for dandelion (wine, greens, coffee substitute). Plus cornflower (nice blue flower, edible as a garnish, can use mixed with teas) and lamb's quarters. Maybe somehow use all this wild garlic, too?
Don't know how the groundcover raspberries would do here - thought I read somewhere that they were arctic.

Will be trying lingonberry next to some blueberries I have; also trying different herbs for the first time (think thyme should do well, plus is fragrant; also trying oregano and a (supposedly) hardy rosemary).

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 6:19PM
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On the maypop - BEWARE!!! That stuff will take over (although I am considering the uses of the leaves; the fruit seems rather sparse in juice, with a flavor that seems like it will take some getting used to.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 6:22PM
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