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Strawberry / Sweet Potato guild as an alternative to my front lawn

 
Denise Lehtinen
Posts: 102
Location: Tampa, Florida zone 9A
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Here in Tampa, plants like strawberries do well in the colder weather (September through May), sweet potatoes do well in the hotter months (April through October).

Are there some other low-growing plants that might do well to be included in this guild where strawberries and sweet potatoes are envisioned as the main goals of the ecosystem?

Please brainstorm for me.
 
Olanga Jay
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I'm from Massachusetts. For many years I had a strawberry ground cover. The problem is that from the third year they multiply so that they begin to have a disease ... Plus, berries attract wild animals and insects such as ants ... The harvest was so great that my family could no longer see strawberrys ...
I've experimented with different plants and concluded that the best ground covers make low-growing Mint. Now I also grow wild thyme. Speaking about the ecosystem, the key is in Biodiversity and front of the house can make a wonderful minty garden for bees.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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I wonder, maybe peanuts?
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I am using chamomile and clover as a ground cover for my front yard. I have sections that have been enclosed for small garden spaces and those will be garden-ready for spring. However the rest of the front yard is just destroyed from weeds, high winds and garbage that floats in from our busy street. The clover stays green all year, so we should have the only green yard on the block during the drought and winter months. Also when I'm ready in a year or two to overtake the entire area for garden the clover and chamomile should have done a good job of repairing and preparing the area for seeds. *crossing my fingers*

Good luck!

 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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berries and sweet taters don't like being walked on

so if you walk on the lawn I'd go with herbs if not why not plant something with a bit of upright habit in some areas?
 
                        
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
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Lori's choices of Chamomile and clover are pretty fail safe, but you need to chose the right varieties. For a ground cover only Roman Chamomile will do as German Chamomile turn into a perennial bush in Fla, Roman Chamomile also doesn't mind being walked on and smells great when you do. Some species of clover can also get pretty darn huge so a low growing variety like Dutch White Clover stays small and of course fixes nitrogen. Olanga Jay's advice also holds true, If you're gonna make a useful/edible lawn it's easier and more beneficial to plant a lot of different species so all root zones are taken up by your plants and not grass and noxious weeds. You could think about planting some beneficial "weeds" though like dandelion and plantain which are both medicinal and great for the soil. Cheers
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I like the idea of mixed ground covers, as people have pointed out, a lot of different plants will help keep the soil covered and avoid pest and disease problems. Diversity is a survival strategy! Any of the clump-forming or spreading perennial vegetables might be part of a mixed edible ground cover: http://perennialvegetables.org/perennial-vegetables-for-each-climate-type/hot-and-humid/ Alliums are especially pest and disease-resistant, and could make a grass-like groundcover, though you can't walk on it.
 
Sean Debbad
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What do you think about growing a lawn using alfalfa? Has anyone tried this? This is a great way to chop and drop mulch and source of nitrogen.

I would like to do this. Any suggestions?

I was thinking this will be too much of green sticks instead of green grass, assuming I cut and maintain at 1-2 inches like lawn.
 
Elisabeth Tea
Posts: 53
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I use strawberries not as an alternative to grass, but as an addition to bedding plants. I know that strawberries have shallow roots and don't get very tall, so they fit well under and around larger flowering plants.

Since it's a perennial, I'd like to pair it with perennial, edible flowers and vegetables.

I was thinking anise hyssop, bee balm (sometimes a tad invasive), salad burnet or burnet, calendula (although I hear it's more annual than perennial), dianthus/carnation, chamomile, chicory, garlic chives, garden chives, English daisy, hollyhock (*very* tall), or marjoram.

Most of my permaculture knowledge comes from book-learning, I have thick skin, and a strong desire to learn; so please feel free to educate me.
 
Rachell Koenig
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Olanga Jay wrote:I'm from Massachusetts. For many years I had a strawberry ground cover. The problem is that from the third year they multiply so that they begin to have a disease ... Plus, berries attract wild animals and insects such as ants ... The harvest was so great that my family could no longer see strawberrys ...
I've experimented with different plants and concluded that the best ground covers make low-growing Mint. Now I also grow wild thyme. Speaking about the ecosystem, the key is in Biodiversity and front of the house can make a wonderful minty garden for bees.


maybe they wouldnt "disease" if you used actual wild strawberries?
 
Elisabeth Tea
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BTW, on the subject of grass substitutes, I read that the original lawns were chamomile and thyme. That sounds like it would smell lovely when you walked across the yard.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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If you have your sweetpotatoes planted densely enough, they will eventually form a solid groundcover with top leaf canopy 12-18 inches high. Have you determined whether the strawberries will maintain through the summer under this, or do you have the plants spaced out enough to permit the strawberries to "see" daylight? Many growers in the South treat strawberries as annuals, and plant a whole new patch every fall. The plants grow through the winter, produce the following spring, and that's it. I grew strawberries for a few years in South Georgia and tried to keep them as perennials. Between keeping them weeded and keeping them watered through the summer, all for a month worth of picking in April and May, they seemed hardly worth it. But I never thought of letting sweet potatoes run over the top of the whole thing. I rather thing the strawberry plants would smother out under there.
No matter what you do, you can think about an additional yield from a tall plant that sticks up out of this mixed groundcover; assuming you've abandoned all use of the area as a lawn (which seems likely, since both sweet potatoes and strawberries won't tolerate much trampling) Think of the Three Sisters idea, except you've substituted the squash groundcover for a sweet potato/strawberry one. Think widely spaced, perhaps clumped, taller plants that would stick up and out of the mess. Corn, sunflower, okra, amaranth, lambsquarters, roselle, etc. Next think about vines that can climb up these, especially after they are mature or past their prime. Beans, vining cowpeas, hyacinth and winged beans, cukes, mouse melons, malabar spinach....Stack and pack it!
 
Rachell Koenig
Posts: 71
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Elisabeth Tea wrote:BTW, on the subject of grass substitutes, I read that the original lawns were chamomile and thyme. That sounds like it would smell lovely when you walked across the yard.


That's pretty cool! They must have had walking stones or something though, wouldn't they? Thyme is a woody plant (brake if stepped on), but I've never seen carpet thyme. Chamomile seems really tender to me, like it wouldn't survive being stepped on. But I've got German chamomile for making tea. Is the other kind roman? Isn't that one like a moss? That would make since.. wonder if it smells like the German kind?
 
Elisabeth Tea
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I've never grown chamomile or thyme, but I found that information here while doing research for a letter to the editor. They didn't include details about varieties. http://www.organiclawncare101.com/history.html
 
Rachell Koenig
Posts: 71
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Your last name is Tea.. but you've never grown chamomile?!?!!? Just messing with ya
 
Elisabeth Tea
Posts: 53
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LOL There's always this year. I'm buying seeds now and I have a big spot of bare earth that looks tempting.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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