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Plant suggestions for rocky poorly drained very wet soil.

 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 166
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I have super wet poorly drained extremely rocky soil next to my driveway, the rock is from the base used for the driveway and the water comes from me being on a big hill in western washington. I am looking for some plants besides weeds and grass that might live there and was wondering if comfrey might be one of those? I was also thinking willow might be a choice too, but I need something that will be short so as to not block sun. This is on the south side of a north facing hill so anything higher than a few feet tall will block out sun.

My choices for now are:
Cranberries
Wintergreen
Comfrey


Suggestions are appreciated.
 
Nicolai Barca
Posts: 15
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mounds?
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 166
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I can't do mounds as it would push water onto my driveway. The driveway is sloped to drain into this area, mounds I do not think would be advisable.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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There's lots of fantastic bog plants that would be ideal. Not productive in the 'people food'
sense, but you'll make lots of other species very happy Sedges are one of my favourite plants..
Chilean guava is really tough here, dunno about your climate. Also rhubarb loves wet, but it must have plenty of food. Horse manure's great...
 
Jesus Martinez
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Is anyone familiar with skunk cabbage? I think it's a native plant here that grows in bogs.
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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you do know skunk cabbage smells like skunk right?
I wanted it because of it's capacity to create heat in the early spring and break the icy surface, but I don't have any plans on eating the large green leaves there full of calcium oxalate.
I was hoping the ducks would eat it but I noticed i don't even see deer eating it, i guess those crystals really do a number on the organs like fresh rhubarb.

A couple things i've learned about working with boggy ground is don't even bother trying to buy something from the nursery and expect it to perform in real conditions. They always disapoint as their life was spent in peat until i stuck it in thick mud only to watch it not grow but not die year after year.

The plant's that really seem to do well in year round boggy conditions where dug up from year round boggy conditions, so you its trained for the territory. I'm so tired of creeping buttercups being the only thing that succeeds broadscale, the ducks eat em just fine but they don't each enough of them to start a new germination condition.

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swamp lantern
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
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Cattails might be good. Multiple uses there, including being a non-traditional edible.
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 166
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The area is far enough from my house that I wouldn't necessarily notice the smell.

How do cattails perform in rocky soil? The rocks are 4-9" in size.

About a mile hike from my house is a native growing area for skunk cabbage and I was thinking of grabbing some in the spring to try out.

I have buttercup everywhere around here. It is poisonous and very invasive and nearly impossible to get rid of due to the way it spreads w/ it's strong root system. It can grow through 12" of hard dirt without issue.
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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I once tried to torch buttercups because well I bought the stupid torch and had no use for it. Bad idea not only did i get nowhere with burning buttercups they just endured n endured and then sorta started to wilt but within a week of me torching the whole area started to bloom like crazy, my only consolation was I also got bees that week and they went crazy for the early cold spring flowers. My adult ducks never touched the buttercups no matter how many i threw but, after finding out they only poison mamals i fed the buttercups to the ducklings and they gobbled them right down during a drought of fresh greens. Now all those ducklings are adults and right now when theres nothing to eat but soggy half dead grass those ducklings are putting a daily hurting on the buttercups. I don't want to get my hopes up but if they keep on this way the daily pressure during the wet winter might put a cramp on their spring head start. Oh man are buttercups frost tolerant.
I don't think skunk weed smells bad at all, there just not edible or reasonably diggable they got a massive root system you really gotta chop at to pull the root ball out. But if it's not snowing yet in your area now might be a good time to dig them up as they start so early in the spring there poping right out of the snow.

Catail's are some pretty durable mofo's, there impossible to remove out of ditches that have allot of rocks so I can't see any problems, I have them growing out of tire's that are plastic lined on bare ground the tough part is putting them places where they'll get enough water in the summertime. Cattails are edible all over in all kinds of stages so if you don't have to steal them from the home depot parking lot like I do, you could really put yourself into some food while also using their pump like nature to marginally drain the boggy mud.

A great mulch that everyone overlooks that's also a Trex in heavy rock mud is japanese knotweed, the shoot's taste like rhubarb in the spring without all the organ shredding acids and when it grows 10 feat by the summer you've got yourself a great perennial mulch resource.
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 166
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Good points Saybian.

My goals I should state are two fold:

1. Cover some otherwise wet/muddy (it stays moist through the summer and is muddy about 10 months of the year) ground with something.
2. That ground cover should be useful either as a mulch/compost or as an edible.

I'm going to plant out several things to see how they do:

1. Cranberry
2. Skunk cabbage
3. Some shrub willow if they exist
4. cattail (the other side of the driveway has water in it year round and will be ideal for this.
5. Wintergreen
6. comfrey
 
Kota Dubois
Posts: 171
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I have many rocky wet areas which are spring fed so also very cold. There are lots of plants which do well in these areas.

-Herbacious hibiscus
-daylilies
-great Canadian burnet
-monardia (bee balm) probably most mints
-anything in the lysimachia family
-many different types of primula
-many different touch-me-nots will selfseed ever year
-giant japanese coltsfoot (but it really spreds)
-marsh marigold
-houttia (very colourful in full sun)
-iris versicolor or pseudacorus
-I even have daffodils which never die along the edges
-astilboides taberences
-ajuga
-turtleheads
-and of course, ferns and mosses.

A word of caution about japanese knotweed...It is very invasive, impossible to kill, will go right under your driveway and exit on the other side. Danger, danger Will Robinson.

Here is a photo of one of my better kept gardens of this sort in the spring.
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Jesus Martinez
Posts: 166
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For some reason I didn't think of mints either. I'll have to buy a bunch of those and see how they do too.
 
Matt Walker
Posts: 218
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
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My site is very similar to yours, so I can empathize. I would suggest some native edibles like Salal, Oregon Grape, etc. I know height is an issue, but for a while some cedar might be a nice addition, and makes great poles for the garden once it's too tall. Also, sword fern should be very hardy there, and they transplant readily. If you can get some decaying wood matter into the site, you may be able to do well with huckleberries there. On my North facing hillside they are very prolific on old stumps near the wettest ground.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 171
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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If I had an area like that, one thing I'd plant is calamus, which likes "wet feet." I'm looking for a place on my property to plant it, but my land percs like a sieve, so I'll probably have to sink a Rubbermaid tote, drill maybe 3-4 small holes in it, fill it with soil, and plant calamus. It is a time-honored, very versatile medicinal.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 374
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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If your water quality is fresh and cold -- as from a spring or seep -- you might want to try watercress or some of the other cresses. They are low-growing and make a good ground cover as well as being edible. The cattail is another good choice (as someone else suggested) if you don't worry about the fact that it can get pretty tall. Every part is either edible or useful in some way or other. You can eat the roots, shoots and the immature heads (tastes like corn-on-the-cob if you boil and salt/butter them). You can use the fluff to stuff pillows or other things as a substitute for down, and the leaves are great for baskets. Rushes are another good wetland plant -- some have edible parts and most make good basket material or thatch. Equisetum (scouring rush) is good for cleaning pots and pans as well.

Other ideas...
Sagittaria (Arrowroot) -- pretty, edible and the powdered dried roots can be used for thickener in soups and stews, plus it is great for soothing upset tummies in cats and dogs. I have used it for years on our cats because so many of the over the counter things that are safe for dogs are not safe for cats. It works every time, and I have never come across a cat who didn't like it made into a kind of gravy with water or milk.

Spring Beauties (Claytonia) will carpet the ground in spring and produce small tubers that taste a lot like water chestnuts. They only get a few inches tall and I know they will do well in rocks because we have them everywhere here in the Ozarks where our best crop is rocks.

If you want something more productive and don't mind a bit of height, you might try PawPaw or Serviceberry trees. Both do well in wetter areas and will thrive in shallow, rocky soil. Both also produce fruits -- though the serviceberry (also called Juneberry) produces very small berries about the size of peas, and you will have to fight the birds for them. The fruits are heavenly -- like sweet cherries -- but you won't get a lot of them because the birds tend to eat them even before they are ripe. The tree is one of the first to bloom in spring, and is absolutely gorgeous. Pawpaws have large fruits that taste sort of like a banana custard.

There are also wild rice, onions and garlic, among hundreds of others. You should try looking at the USDA plant database or Plants for the Future. Or check out this website specifically for your area. I'm sure you will find more possibilities than you know what to do with. http://green.kingcounty.gov/gonative/Index.aspx
 
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