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Opinions: mint as ground cover in fruit tree guild?

 
Tanja Sieger
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Hi everyone,

I know that mint is invasive but at themoment it's the only thing I have got arround and I got a lot of grass wanting to get its space back. So I wanted something to cover the ground around the trees fast. I would rather have mint all over then grass all over... is this a bad thought? I know I might regret this decision so I would highly appreciate your opinions on this...

I have planted some trees, given each of them a calendula and will put in some peas and garlic (will plant them in toilet paper tubes first and plant them as plants already instead of putting the seeds/bulbs in the ground as I am not sure how they will cope with all the paper, cardbord and mulch...), I also ordered lavander.

I read a lot on internet but I didn't really find any information on how things spread, when they aren't able to make side-roots because of the thick layer of carton and mulch... I thought of planting pumpkins nearby whick cover the soil nicely, but I can not water the plants so regularily... might not be the best option either... any ideas?

I live in Argentina, with cold winters (frosts but no snow) and warm winters. Mediteranean climate. We are close to the ocean but no salt influence.

I highly appreciate your experience & thoughts!

 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 369
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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Mint can be invasive, but that also can mean "low maintenance" for weeding.

I find mint most invasive in soft and tilled soils (like garden beds), but not at all invasive when surrounded by grass, especially if mowed a few times a year..
I have mint around many fruit trees that are in areas it won't invade too far - easy to harvest, the bees love it, and it's pleasant to smell when walked on..

Also remember that mint isn't early season, so you can still grow some peas, radishes, and squash in and around it..
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Mint grows fine in the shade under trees. At my place, it dies back during the winter. Smells great when mowing. At my place mint doesn't out-compete grass in sunny areas, but it holds it's own fairly well. In shady areas, it out-competes most grasses. 

 
Tanja Sieger
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Thanks for your answers.
What does "in areas it won't invade too far" mean? Our land has nothing on it, no rocks, no paths, no nothing... all one even patch... So I don't think that I will find a spot where it doesn't invade to much. Maybe underneath the pine tree but there it doesn't serve me as a ground cover...

Here it doesn't die back in winter. It diesn't get that cold.
 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 369
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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Tanja Sieger wrote:Thanks for your answers.
What does "in areas it won't invade too far" mean? Our land has nothing on it, no rocks, no paths, no nothing... all one even patch... So I don't think that I will find a spot where it doesn't invade to much. Maybe underneath the pine tree but there it doesn't serve me as a ground cover...

Here it doesn't die back in winter. It diesn't get that cold.


For me, that means areas that are mowed, compacted, heavily grazed, or heavily shaded.  If you have a lot of place for it and somewhere gets out of control: free rooted plants!
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Location: North-Central Idaho
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Invasives are like weeds....they're only bad if they're someplace or something you don't want.  Most everything can be controlled and in my experience mint is pretty easy to do that with.  You'll have a heck of a time eradicating it but keeping it in check with harvesting, splitting plants off, using plants as barriers, heavy mulch, etc is pretty effective.  If you are wanting mint under your trees just plant it there and don't worry too much about it taking over the world....it won't!  
 
Tanja Sieger
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Eric:
We have very good, well drained soil, no shade, just gras everywhere... We dont mow very regularly but let it grow pretty high.... So from what I read mint is not the best idea to plant mint as in these conditions it might spread a lot... but I have thought as well about the "low maintenance"...

Dave:
Thank you... that's exactly what I thought... I don't mind (actually want it) to spread somewhat... so that it covers the ground around the tree... but just doesn't want it everywhere... but that sounds good... some sheet mulch to keep it in check and mowing twice a year, and harvesting of course... so that sound pretty much like what I wanted to hear... Happy that you have made this kind of experience...

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to reply to the question!


 
charlotte anthony
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my first thought is that if this is  one of those native grasslands systems,  leave the grass alone, or add legumes without tilling.  you have one of the best systems in the world for feeding the soil.  just add your trees.

if this is not one of those systems, one thought about mint is that where i am it only grows where there is water.  i am in a desert with 8-14 inches of rain a year so where you are it might work.  catnip works better here.

i would highly recommend watching this video from gabe brown. 

he would plant 20-30 different perennial legumes and grasses and i would recommend something recommended on another forum dutch white clover which is perennial and grows 6 inches tall.  i would find a bunch of perennial  legumes and grasses and plant these.  one reason for this is that you will never need to fertilize again.  any monocrop will use up the soil

i am doing his multi cover cropping system  for my food forest.  this way when i want chop and drop i can do this and get the benefits of all these minerals and otherwise i have the cover crop to feed my plants. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_GEpq59urY
Keys To Building a Healthy Soil - Organic - Permaculture and Polyculture
Gabe Brown Soil Conservationist - Explains how to remediate and build up your soil quality. .
Keys To Building a Healthy Soil - Organic - Permaculture and Polyculture
Gabe Brown Soil Conservationist - Explains how to remediate and build up your soil quality.

i would actually prefer to read than watch video's because often i can read in 10 minutes what the video says, however this one is worth every minute.  it will knock your socks off.
 
Marco Banks
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I'm not a big mint fan --- I spent 2 years digging it up, and vowed to never let it escape a pot again.  It spreads and spreads and spreads.  And how much mint does a person need?

If you are planting a guild, one consideration is that all the members of the guild play well together and no one plant dominates the others.  Mint, in my experience, does exactly that.
 
Tanja Sieger
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Thanks a lot for your opinions.

Charlotte, I really liked the video and learned a lot, thanks!
 
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