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Ground cover for the tropics  RSS feed

 
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Hi.
I'm doing a research and planning for my future fruit forest.
I'm looking for ground covers.
So far I've found: Sweet potatoes, clover, Peanut and lucerne.

Properties I'm looking for:
Short as possible.
Soft and pleasant to lie down on (naked)
Nutritious to the soil.
Can be taken out easily when wanting to plant something else.
Doesn't need much caring.

I think that's about it. Hope didn't forget anything.

Thanks
 
pollinator
Posts: 934
Location: Longbranch, WA
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I am going to suggest New Zealand spinach. Tetragonia tetragonoide webpage that describes it as small leaves but both Su Ba in Hawaii and I have found that grown in the shade it produces larger better tasting leaves.  It is excellent food; I use it both as salad and cooked greens. Laying on it may have too slight problems: The stems hold quite a bit of moisture so when crushed may feel damp. The seeds form at the base of each leaf along the stem and are quite large so you may feel them against bare skin.  The advantage is that as you chop and drop the stems you are also reseeding. Can be used to produce a huge amount of biomass that can be easily torn out or broken off by hand or with a stick or just trample it down with your feet.  
 
Aviyah Treves
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Thanks Hans,
I'm not looking for an edible groundcover,  just something with the properties that I mentioned,  thanks anyway
 
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From the tropics, none of those are sweet and soft to lie down in and all of those are too long and too rough.  The tropics does not lend itself to a ground cover that is soft on the skin.  Clover would do it to an extent.  None of those are easy to get rid of, but I have no experience with peanuts.  The thought of getting rid of a patch of sweet potato is hard to contemplate as it supports itself in our climate.    

What we did eventually was to plant a little spot of a local short soft grassy lawn type thing, just to have a spot to sit on in the afternoon.  Here it is simply called 'grass'.  I would suggest ground cover is ground cover, and a little soft spot to lie in is different from that.   Check your local area - there will be something but I don't think a ground cover will do it.    
 
Aviyah Treves
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amarynth leroux wrote:


Thanks.
Grass is getting a lot taller than the groundcover I mentioned, and need chopping,  right?

I don't want something to takeoff completely,  just something I can pull with the roots quite easily when I plant fruit trees.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1280
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Sweet potatoes are my personal favorite ground cover, but they don't tolerate being walked upon. And they exude a sticky sap when crushed, so laying down on them won't be pleasant.

Perennial peanut might be a better choice. This is not the peanut that we eat and make peanut butter with. It's a fairly low ground cover that will take neglect, drought, and heat and keep on living. I've never tried laying down upon it while naked, so I can't vouch for its softness. Around here, laying naked on the ground is guaranteed to give you plenty of lava cuts, so we tend to use beach mats to protect ourselves.

I can think of a couple of other ground covers, but they have drawbacks. They tend to spread rapidly, are difficult to control if neglected, and aren't pleasing to lay down on. Another one grows 15" tall and will not stand being walked upon.

Clover and tropical grasses can be difficult to remove without resorting to either herbicides (nor permie!) or something like long term use of thick black plastic.

Perhaps something like oats or wheat may do if you don't mind tilling the seed in and mowing it a couple times to keep it shorter.

Quite honestly, I can't think of anything that meets your criteria 100%. Perennial peanut is the closest.
 
Aviyah Treves
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Thanks so much su ba.
So Clover is hard to pull from the ground? Even if just to plant some seed for a tree once?

 
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Pinto peanut
Desmodium heterophyllum - also repels some pests, will grow in shade to a certain extent
Desmodium triflorum - also repels some pests - used in "push/pull" systems
Brazilian spinach - will grow in shade
Longevity spinach - Gynura procumbens
Sweet potato - you can lie on it. As Su Ba says you're going to get a bit of sap.
 
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I think mucuna bracteata suit your criteria best..it is leguminous, Good for soil, you can lay on it, strong and dont require a lot of attention, survive in shades..Sorry for my bad english
 
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