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Good plants for intersticial spaces in a garden  RSS feed

 
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I am looking for good plants to put in "between spaces" in a raised bed garden. This would be an alternative to putting down yards and yards of geo fabric. I've just done a bunch of work adding new dirt and was hoping to plant some "desirable weeds" to provide competition for the usual weeds before they get started. Does this make sense? A "desirable weed" that I can think of would be spearmint. What else? Ideally a perennial plant that could take trampling on and non-ideal light exposure without going all kudzu on me. Also have out-of-the-way places in the greenhouse where this would apply. Any one have thoughts on this or suggestions? Location is coastal Pacific Northwest. Thanks in advance.
 
garden master
Posts: 2020
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
339
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Hi Glenn, welcome to Permies!

So are you looking for plants to put between the main crops in your raised beds?  Or on the paths between the raised beds?  I think you are talking about on the paths but if I'm wrong, please straighten us out.

I cover my paths with a layer of cardboard and then a few inches of wood chips.  Every couple years I just renew the chips.  I'm thinking spearmint and oregano would cover the ground decently but I'm guessing some weeds would still poke through.  And don't put mints in places where you don't want them to spread or take over.  Some folks use clover in between raised beds.  It probably won't outcompete all the other weeds but it would fix nitrogen which your veggies might be able to reach with their roots.
 
Glenn Hollowell
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Thanks Mike. I'm basically looking for growing options rather than putting down a barrier on that patch of ground. I'm thinking not only about some of the space between raised beds, but also some of the miscellaneous space in my growing area that is not crop planted: the ground under my raised water storage tanks, under and around growing tables, etc. I'm wondering if there are perennials I could plant that would outcompete weeds and be useful for human use as greens, herbs, etc.  Strawberries might be a possibility, although I don't think of them as being terribly shade tolerant. Thanks.
 
Mike Jay
garden master
Posts: 2020
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
339
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Hopefully more people chime in, there are probably a bunch of good options.  For areas where you don't want perennials you could do lettuce or greens since they'd be somewhat shade tolerant.

I'm wondering about sorrel or strawberry spinach as perennial greens.  If you're interested in medicinal plants there are probably a bunch that could fit the bill. 

The hard part is finding ones that can out-compete undesirable plants.  I don't have any first hand experience with out-competing perennials that provide a yield.
 
Glenn Hollowell
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Yep, thanks for the response. I've got a bunch of raw dirt down now and was thinking that if I could get some aggressive desirable plants planted in the miscellaneous spaces, (next to walkways between beds, under the water tank, beneath the planting tables, etc.) I might be able to get ahead of the weeds. Clover is probably my fall back, although I'd prefer something with more "table value". Some of this space is in the greenhouse so it will benefit from higher humidity + temps, as well as a longer growing season. Thanks again.
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I love saving my interstitial spaces for strips of clovers and wildflowers. This is a great opportunity for polyculture.

Also supportive plants like borage and lovage, geraniums and marigolds are good here, and walking onions, and conventional and garlic chives are excellent as culinary plants and scent distractors.

Also, you could plant into these areas with the crops on its verge with the intention of allowing them to go to seed after the rest of the crop has been harvested, but this applies more to biennials that you want to get into the soil seed bank.

If the goal is living mulch between tall row crops, squashes do really well to cover the ground with their vines of enormous leaves.

-CK
 
Glenn Hollowell
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Yep, thanks Chris. Roger on all that. I've always thought weed barriers and gravel was a failure of imagination in greenhouses and gardens...that said, I've put down a fair amount of the stuff myself. The greenhouse is an old glass one that I totally tore out last fall, and replaced with a Solexx half-arch against the house. Lots of insulation in the north wall as well as the exterior of the knee walls. Also have 2" of foam buried one foot down in the ground under the whole thing. I've been pulling a surprising amount of weeds over the winter so I suppose that the insulation and thermal mass are doing what they should. That all said, it is pretty much a blank slate as far as plants in there now.
 
gardener
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My favorite suggestion and what I really want is Creeping Thyme.  I have not tried it because I have heard it is hard to start from seed.

Here are some thread that offer some suggestions:

https://permies.com/t/63906/Planting-pathway-edge-pollinators-Ideas

https://permies.com/t/14950/Walkable-Groundcover

https://permies.com/t/62923/Super-short-perennial-ground-covers
 
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