I don't have a need for any grass at all, but I'm sure that some grass would grow in a lawn such as I envision. I have always been happy to call any relatively flat surface of mowed material, a lawn. If it's short, green and you can kick a ball around or place a picnic table on it, it's a lawn.
There are many edible crops which can be shorn close to the ground and they will regenerate. Those most resilient to foot traffic could go in the high traffic zones.
I don't anticipate spending a lot of time on my hands and knees, picking micro greens. I would prefer to cut material in large swaths and then dump it all onto a sorting table. After human food is picked from the cuttings, it could be thrown to livestock.
I don't anticipate ever mowing the whole lawn in one go. Instead, I would slice away whichever area has a bunch of material that is ready to eat. A big clump of chard may be left alone for several weeks until it's a foot tall. It might end up looking like an edible meadow.
It's possible that over time, my lawn would become covered in grass. That would be a shame, and a horrible waste of space. It may become necessary to kill all of the grass from time to time. I could see doing this with serious overgrazing in small patches. Those areas could then be reseeded to desirable species. The critters that receive the leftover cuttings could reside in a mobile pen. Sort of like a paddock system, but with the goal of over grazing before each move. Many chicken tractors are operated that way. 😂
POISON --- There's always the chance that many poisonous or non-edible plants will invade. Hopefully they can be dealt with through overgrazing as well. I will leave out any plants that I don't recognize as edible.
but I have an idea for you. I feel you are probably just looking to have edible weeds without
all the work but given your extensive permie knowledge how about considering an apprentice of
sorts? No, I'm not looking for a job. But maybe you could find some locals that would love to do
some work trade for a crop share. I know a garden that you don't have to tend to is very
appealing but I wonder how it would really turn out?
I am throwing a couple videos on here just to jazz up my post.
My parents have a suburban backyard with just 2 chickens that has completely turned into broadleaf plantain, I mean completely. It would be good for foot traffic.
Dandelions, purslane, and mallow would have to be additions too. depending on your tastes garlic chives might be a good one, although the smell of crushed garlic chives might be a bit much for a lawn, same with mint I suppose.
I started thinking about this when I was at Home Depot. A guy was buying a tool for pulling dandelions out of his lawn. I thought to myself, what a ninny. Why would anyone care so much about a few dandelions?
The goal is to have a small lawn area, with many edibles mixed in. It might be more trouble than it's worth. Feed value for livestock might be more important than the stuff saved for human consumption. I think it would come down to sorting speed and convenience. I have sorted through many recyclable products. It is far more efficient to have everything gathered onto a big sorting table, than to gather individual bits from the ground.
A scythe or a variation of my hedge cutter - sickle bar mower would seem to be the right harvesting tools.
Russell Olson wrote:Dandelions, purslane, and mallow would have to be additions too. depending on your tastes garlic chives might be a good one, although the smell of crushed garlic chives might be a bit much for a lawn, same with mint I suppose.
Speak for yourself, I'd love to roll around in some mint...
Dale Hodgins wrote:Amaranth that is grown for the leaves, would be an obvious choice for me. It wants to take over good soil here. There are several ethnic communities who would become my customers. It is used in Thai, Latin American, West African and Indian cuisines.
Got some great amaranth seed for you if you like. My landrace is almost stabilized. I've selected for yummy leaves when young, over 6 foot at grain harvest time but takes months to get there. This year I've been very heavily selecting for growing well without irrigation, with the side effect that it seems fine germinating with only summer dew. There is a nice selection of colour, green, gold, red, maroon, and combinations there upon. They wouldn't self seed unless you let them grow tall, but you could leave a few plants around the edges of the 'lawn' for that.
If the 'lawn' is in public view, there may be a few legal issues here, especially if some of the plants you grow fall under 'weeds' as defined by the government(s). Several layers of legal systems dictate what we can grow from the city bylaws, all the way up through the recent federal seed act & the more recent Bill C-18. However, if you can show that it is 'normal farming' then the Farm Act protects you from most legislation (provincial and down). However the Farm Act does not define what 'normal farming' is, and leaves that up for interpretation by the courts. From what I can tell, 'normal farming' usually means that you produce a farming income. All that is needed is some busy body to complain about your lawn to get things rolling in the wrong direction. Perhaps the best way arround this is through public education, or by hiding your lawn behind some lovely tall amaranth and/or sunflowers (mine also grew without irrigation this year to the massive height of 14 feet - the stocks can be dried for cooking fuel, biomass for the soil, or used to produce textiles).
Komatsuna - japanese mustard greens - also grows great here in the spring and fall. Might be a tasty addition to your food lawn.
Keep us up to date with how it goes.
In addition, many vegetables will run feral if you buy the seed once. You will then have them forever if you want. I have now had many like that for 15 years. All you can eat for as long as you like. Parsley, sweet cicely, Leeks, scorzonera, earth chestnut, curly mallow, salad burnet, and horseradish leaves for me here. Don't forget that grapes are vegetables as well as fruit.
They are all much more diverse than grass and have deeper roots, which encourage mineralization/ dynamic accumulation. They also greatly increase your gut biodiversity.
Dale Hodgins wrote: I started thinking about this when I was at Home Depot. A guy was buying a tool for pulling dandelions out of his lawn. I thought to myself, what a ninny. Why would anyone care so much about a few dandelions?
As a professional troll, my instinctive reaction to seeing this would be to immediately ask the cashier where I could find dandelion seedlings to plant in my lawn, just for the look of disgust on the guy's face. I thrive on looks of disgust from people who don't get it.
edit: I love how this site doesn't have spellcheck capabilities. It keeps me on my toes!
...ask the cashier where I could find dandelion seedlings to plant in my lawn...
That would have been my reaction also !
I am totally confused trying to figure out how this poor plant has earned such an evil reputation.
I used to live across the street from a city park with a huge lawn.
The white clover and dandelions occupied about 30% of the entire lawn - absolutely beautiful every spring !
the garlic and regular chives, and how could I forget the mint, especially the chocolate mint, it smelled
so good. Heirloom Chocolate Mint Seeds on Amazon
I had a desert tortoise, an African Spurred desert tortoise, it grew so fast. I planted lettuce in the
backyard especially for it. When the lettuce went to seed I saved the seeds for the next year, Torty
loved it. Eating everything except green peppers and red lettuce, Torty had a real eye for a salad.
I am discovering that this is a great ground cover plant. It pops right back when you run over it with the lawn mower. It spreads. It crowds out other weeds. Best of all, it tastes good on pizza.
My lawn at the cabin will only be visible from my property, so no problem with authorities. It's surrounded by trees on all sides.
Even in the city, I've only heard of serious invasives like Japanese knot weed being an issue.
I don't have a lawn in the city. My small space in a Victoria town house, shares all green space. They have a gardener.
The roots are the size of a seven year olds head.
My boy is crazy about chicory. He bought seeds, we were gonna plant them, but they showed up on their own. I want to encourage moroccan mint, so short, so strong smelling, but I killed the first pot of it I got.
I planted some onion sets in the lawn last year, they keep giving us chives with no work.
That bermuda at the bottom had no idea it was about to be totally shaded by a 6 ft thicket of edible weeds.
The tipping point for weedy lawns areas is woody stemmed plants. After one season with a lawn that was~70 percent lambs quater, no traditional mower would be able to handle it, in came the scythe of course. But at that point i was hesitant to call it a lawn anymore.
i call the "lawn" the yarden...because i am trying to plant as many edible/useful plants as possible, and over run the grass.
actually its going really well, it is not that hard at all, at least thats what i find. i've been working on doing this in several places, i suppose i get better at it, but really if anything i get more lax about it, because it is that easy. the plants that are good for this are really abundant, resilient and easy...so once you throw down some seed they self seed and keep increasing exponentially, really quickly.
some plants i am growing in the *yarden* (or that volunteer so are spread by intentional re seeding) -
mints, of course any kind of clover, red clover for eating, and dutch white clover in particular, wild sweet violets, viola, self heal, sheep sorrel, miner's lettuce, chicory, chamomile and wild pineapple weed, calendula, lemon balm, evening primrose, california poppy, sweet william- dianthus, some patches of columbines, lamb's quarters, plantain, purslane, pigweed (i am not that fond of this one but it keeps volunteering), docks, some kind of interesting nightshade keeps popping up, wild mallows, wild strawberries, wild leeks - allium triquetrum, oregano, thyme, arugula...
ah theres more...but thats a lot!
also in the garden, and in spots where i clean seed and therefore drop some, i am getting swiss chard, parsley, kales, cilantro, calendula, argula, and mustard green galore...abundant amounts from self seeding, from volunteering seedlings...in the paths, and outside my door from blowing off the chaff and a few viable seeds...so these have all naturalized themselves like weeds, which i think is great =)
i think one could grow these by throwing them out in unprepared lawn type areas and get them to naturalize...
For those who need to fool the city authorities or homeowners association, I think a wide band of edibles, surrounding a little lawn could work.
Chard comes in a variety of colors. When mixed with drab plantings, it brightens everything. Many vegetable varieties go to flower, so I don't think we need to specifically search out things meant for the flower. But then, I've never lived in a totalitarian state. ☺
Zach, I think you have definitely cross the line from lawn to meadow. If you can't find the soccer ball or short children...
Judging from the number of plants, it sounds like Layla has most of us beat, but we're working on it. Layla, do you sell seed mixes? I would buy some.
we can work something out if you want. i have a lot of excess seed at the moment.
someone recently requested that i start making pollinator friendly mixes of seed to sell, i have been stewing on it but havent quite put it together. this yarden/alternative to lawn stuff would probably be an awesome mix, too. sometimes i think too much about stuff and dont just get it done though! but maybe there are other people who would think that was cool to buy...to seed their own yarden ...
anywho i do have a ton of seed of the above mentioned plants, or i will very soon, but most of them i already have a lot of seed for. been cleaning and winnowing and drying seed like every day these days...finally starting to get some of it wrapped up, but still more to go. i have been just letting a lot of plants re seed or just laying them down on the beds, just cause i have so much seed, and thats less to process and clean. plus its helping these tough plants get naturalized, and at that over the top abundant level =)
you may or may not know i have been listing and selling seed through this website :
leila's collection of seeds for sale
most of this is seed i grew, though some of it is stuff that i want to grow, so i get some for myself, and some extra seed and list it there.
the woman who runs that website has requested the pollinator mix, so maybe one day i will get it figured out and list it up.
i also maintain a seed list for trading, i do a lot of trading.
so here's my seed list :
a lot of the top stuff i only have tiny amounts of, but the categories and list after "fruit" is mostly stuff i have large quantities of...
and back to the topic (didnt mean to derail =) ---->
heres some pics of my weedy yarden =) i took these last spring, so everything hadnt filled in yet...see if i can get them to post
The first link didn't work,the second one did.
I'm interested mostly in the edible greens and not the flowers, but if a few flower seeds get mixed in, that's fine. I have a 1000 square foot hugelkultur bed. I'd like to seed it, along with a small lawn. For now, I would prefer things that can take some drought, since I'm not able to tend it all the time. I don't live there.
Let's start with $50 worth. Just post a picture of that (with a list of what's included) and if we come to agreement, I will send the money, plus shipping costs. I hope that crossing the border to Canada isn't an issue.
it would be helpful to get a list of stuff you specifically want /dont want...i can fill in the blanks for some stuff, but it would be good to at least know what specifically you dont want.
a lot of the plants i grow (outside of the conventional gardens) are drought tolerant, because of intense summer heat here. but a lot of those are flowers, too, well violets, nigella, even self heal are edible/medicinal...though most people would not eat them. i very rarely use any of them that way ...but occasionally i will eat some of the violet flowers, and i do eat the nigella seed.
and thats a whole lot of seed! so we will see what i can do, it might be less.
i just looked it up and to send a package of 1-3 pounds would be 17 dollars, though, just for the shipping....so i suppose if we are going to do this, might as well go for big. it costs the same even if its smaller or larger, unless its a really small amount that can fit in an envelope.
i have access to some interesting tree seeds as well, although i would have to go gather some of this up, some i already have ready to go - like hazelnuts and pecans, plums and all the fruit trees we grow here, black oak acorns, we have a lot of black locusts here, black walnut and english walnuts, and so many more. actually if i get better with tree identification i could harvest a lot of tree seeds, theres hundreds of interesting tree species here. but my knowledge is, what it is...
are you interested in stuff like that or mostly just alternative to lawn type stuff? only low growing stuff or some taller stuff (like chicory?) ?
well it will take me a bit just to see what i can put together, perhaps you could private message me a list of things that are most wanted, and/or things you specifically dont want? i may not be able to get all the things you want but i have an epic seed bank =) so if theres somethings you have been looking to start list them up and PM me...i will see what i can do.
I would like things that chickens will eat. Invasiveness will be controlled by heavy grazing.
* and i couldnt find any pineapple weed, or sheep sorrel seeds to send right now, which is too bad cause these would be great for what you want to do. *
but what i do have to send, and am in process of putting together ---->
**** indicates that i have a lot of this seed, and will send a large ish amount
wild strawberries ****
wild leeks - allium triquetrum
green swiss chard - perennial ish ****
swiss chard rainbow -perennial ish
indian mustard greens- 'Florida Broadleaf' - annual ****
tatsoi mustard greens- annual
kale green curly perennial ish
wild mallows "cheese" and 'zebrina' ****
lamb's quarters- annual
miner's lettuce - tender perennial
chicory Cichorium intybus perennial ****
HERBS ---- good for tea/ culinary herbs - edibles ---
spearmint perennial ****
low growing -
tiny leaf mint (low growing - mat forming) perennial
self heal - (also edible greens/young leaves) perennial ****
tall herbs (can be mowed but better for non path areas) -
anise hyssop perennial
german chammomile - annual
roman chamomile perennial (only a small amount of seed of this one)
calendula - diverse mix of colors perennial ****
lemon balm perennial ****
oregano perennial ****
tulsi - basil - Ocimum sanctum - tender perennial
nigella sativa - black cumin - edible seed as spice, medicinal, reseeds easily, drought tolerant, lovely unique flowers - annual
edible flowers/ground cover ----
wild sweet violets perennial
viola - mix colors perennial ish
sweet william- dianthus - mix colors - perennial
dwarf nasturtiums - Tropaeolum minus - also edible greens - tender perennial
asparagus - 'mary washington' - heirloom perennial
Rosa rugosa var alba - "salt spray rose" white flowered perennial
i may have gone a bit overboard, but i like that you like this stuff, as i do, while its not always popular with most people. so theres a bit of of extra thrown in there.
plus the awesome abundant nature of this stuff makes it easier to get huge amounts of seeds !
theres tons more seeds out there in my yarden, left to reseed by default, but i might gather up some more.
i used to clean and save a lot more seeds of this type - good weeds =) - but i didnt find that many takers, every once in a while i find people who appreciate this sort of thing, so then they appreciate those types of seeds to trade or buy.... but i found i got better trades/sales with stuff like heirloom tomatoes and more common and rare veggies/herbs. some of the common veggies and herbs sort of overlap, with good useful and weedy, like the chard, kales and mustard, oregano...those are great, for sure....been trying more and more of those in odd places, with not great, compacted soil, into rocky ground...so far they have been acting like the weedy plants and coming up pretty good, with little water and no babying.
anywho theres a couple that somehow didnt make it into the picture, but this is pretty much the stash i have gathered for you--->>>
It's a deal. I will send the money soon.
I will try the seed mix in a few locations around the farm and will report the results, complete with photographs.
Thank you Leila and everyone else. I will take some pictures next summer, after my lawn is up and growing.
This went quite well. I went from making a general statement of intent, to actually finding a source of seed which I will plant in the spring.
Should anything be seeded now? Heavy rains are coming.
Should anything be seeded now? Heavy rains are coming.
it is starting to get a bit late for fall/winter gardening, already.
some things really like the cool weather - mustard greens, kale, arugula, onions, leeks and garlic, peas, radishes and root veggies can do better with winter gardening. many of the types i sent you are suitable for winter sowing, the seed will just wait till its warm enough to sprout if you direct sow or plant in pots in midwinter.
i know your climate is more mild than most so you may be able to get some things going now. i am just somewhat familiar with your climate though, so i cant know for sure whats its like. i've been to BC in the winter many times, but never gardened there...
i would try a bit of seed now of the above mentioned stuff (kale, mustard, onions and leeks in particular) and leave a lot of the rest for very very early spring/late winter...
i definitely put enough seed in there so you should have plenty of seed for experimentation with different methods and timing....
i went and organized it the best i could think of, so hopefully you will be able to tell what's what better.
there is one group which are all "surface sow" seeds, most herbs (even though they are so easy and hardy once established) are actually a bit tricky from seed, and/or difficult to get established once sprouted.
i get infinitely better results with starting these in mini greenhouses, a flat with a dome lid, inside in a greenhouse, on a window sill, or some other controlled environment.
they must be sown on top of the soil, and not covered. once they sprout, you can sprinkle just a small amount of fine soil (or soilless medium/bag soil) over them...but they do a good job of pushing their roots down into the soil without being covered.
at this stage they are very tiny and delicate, rough watering, over watering or under watering will doom them easily!
so they are not as easy to direct sow, a heavy rain will wash them away, bury them too deeply, drown them or whatever. misting with a spray bottle, or enclosing them in a plastic dealio (contains moisture so you dont have to keep watering), even saran wrap on top of pots, is the ideal environment for them as small sprouts.
obviously you may do whatever you want, but these require a bit of special care as seedlings and thats the only way i have had success starting them from seed. this would be many herbs, strawberries, chamomile...
most everything else is good for direct seeding, throwing around randomly, even in unprepared ground.
when direct sowing the really hardy/easy stuff (arugula, chard, mustard greens, kales, all the weedy stuff - lambs quarters, purslane, etc) i find its helpful to rake up an area really good, creating crevices for the seeds to get down into the soil and make good soil contact.