Edible Groundcovers to Grow and Eat

Groundcovers are a great way to spruce up your landscape, manage weeds and help retain soil. But groundcovers can also serve as food if you plant edibles, and there are some cool edible plants that make good groundcovers.

If you have dogs like we do, edible groundcovers are best planted outside the dog’s range. We have an electric dog fence that spans a large area, so are really limited on where we can plant these, but if you have dog-free zones, then this may be an intriguing and viable option for you to expand your food production while serving your landscape.

Or, you can do as we’ve done and plant these as ground cover to some of your container plants, in addition to growing in containers on their own. We’ve even pulled chickweed from our yard and placed into pots so that we can consume them worry-free.

Elfin Thyme is featured in this potted plantscape.
Elfin Thyme is featured in this potted plantscape.

Edible Ground Covers to Grow

Naturally, there are numerous options, but we’re touching on seven for this article.

Excerpted from MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk, except as otherwise noted.1)http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk

Why restrict foodstuffs to the vegetable patch? The following plants will both offer protection from weeds, and earn their place in your kitchen.

1. Marjoram – Oregano

Sweet Marjoram is a type of oregano.
Sweet Marjoram is a variety of oregano.

You may know it as oregano – in fact, marjoram is a type of oregano. This creeping plant can be a great alternative to a lawn, and you can even mow it to keep it in check, just the same as a lawn. Bees love the lilac flowers.

You can mow oregano when you mow the grass!

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NEXT: Creeping and tiny…

2. Thyme

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.24.48 AM
Elfin Thyme – lovely for ground cover, in between rocks and in potted plantscapes.

This versatile plant is happy in most placements, even rock gardens and cracks in the paving. If you’re based by the coast, it’s a great plant to go for – it can handle dry, windy conditions very well.

Choose a creeping variety for your ground cover over the tufted one. There is an Elfin variety—a miniature leafed thyme—as pictured here, as well as other creeping varieties.

Creeping Thyme
Creeping Thyme

Excerpted from MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk, except as otherwise noted.2)http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk

3. Mint

Ajuga mint ground cover, good for partial sun and shady areas.
Ajuga mint, aka Bugleweed, is a prolific groundcover, good for partial sun and shady areas.

There are many different kinds of mints, and all are edible with medicinal properties.

We have lots of the Ajuga Mint, also known as bugle weed, pictured above. It does grow well in partial sun or mostly shade and spreads easily. A beautifully scented plant, mint can be used in a multitude of recipes, in both food and drinks. Certain types grow aggressively, though, so be careful to find the variety that is best for your garden.

Beside its horticultural use as an attractive spreading ground cover in rock gardens and other types of gardens, bugleweed is useful medicinally for several different purposes. It is an astringent, and is considered to have sedative qualities as well. It can calm anxiety symptoms, including heart palpitations. It is a valued cough suppressant.3)http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3435100133.html

We really like this Corsican Mint for an edible groundcover.

Corsican Mint makes a lovely groundcover.
Corsican Mint makes a lovely groundcover.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.31.50 AMExcerpted from MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk, except as otherwise noted.4)http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk

4. Nasturtium

Nasturtium add beauty and peppery tang to salads and dishes.
Nasturtium add beauty and peppery tang to salads and dishes.

The blooms that boast vivid hues of orange, yellow or red are probably enough to tempt you into sowing this plant, but aside from its beauty and excellent ground cover benefits, it tastes great too.

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The stems have a spicy, peppery taste, and the leaves and flowers can also be eaten, though their taste is milder. You can cook nasturtiums as well, but don’t eat the seeds.

Excerpted from MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk, except as otherwise noted.5)http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk

5. Okinawa Spinach

Okinawa Spinach, delicious and nutritious edible ground cover.
Okinawa Spinach, delicious and nutritious edible ground cover.

A beautiful, vigorous, perennial vegetable the purple tinged Okinawa spinach forms a dense, non-vining, edible ground cover that grows well in full sun or partial shade.

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As a food, Okinawa spinach is a spinach substitute, making a nice addition to salads, and can also be eaten cooked. It is purported to have properties that help lower cholesterol, and is grown commercially as a vegetable in China.

Excerpted from MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk, except as otherwise noted.6)http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk

6. Sweet Potato Vine -as shown in the photo

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Image from The Micro Gardeners on Flickr

Of course sweet potato roots are widely known to be delicious and nutritious. Sweet potatoes are a staple food providing a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Well, it turns out that the leaves have 3 times more vitamin B6, 5 times more vitamin C, and almost 10 times more riboflavin than actual sweet potatoes. Nutritionally, this makes the greens similar to spinach, but sweet potato leaves have less oxalic acid, which gives some greens like spinach and chard a sharper taste.

Sweet potato leaves are far more nutritious than the already nutrient-dense sweet potato root.

Beyond that, sweet potato greens make a lovely ground cover. Even the ornamental sweet potatoes are edible, but the potatoes may not be as orange or as sweet.

 

7. Alpine Strawberries

By Renee Shepherd of ReneesGarden.com 7)http://www.reneesgarden.com/about/index.htm

Alpine Strawberries, (Fragaria Vesca Sempervirens), also called Woodland Strawberry.
Alpine Strawberries, (Fragaria Vesca Sempervirens), also called Woodland Strawberry.
Alpine Strawberries, (Fragaria Vesca Sempervirens), also called Woodland Strawberry.
Alpine Strawberries, (Fragaria Vesca Sempervirens), also called Woodland Strawberry.

These are a special ground cover for smaller areas as they stay put and won’t self-propagate via runners. Considered a gourmet treat in French cuisine, they produce a delightful berry, and seven or eight mature little Alpine plants will yield about a cup of berries several times a week on a continuous basis throughout the summer.8)http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/strawberries.html

 

See more ground covers at Mill Race Garden centre.9)http://www.millracegardencentre.co.uk/blog/12-great-ground-covers-for-shade-and-sun/

Here’s more plant that a wonderful edible groundcover, and grow best in shade or partial shade.

It’s really ironic isn’t it, that often we’re throwing away the most nutritious part of the foods we eat. Most of us simply weren’t taught this knowledge, so we haven’t known better.

Now, it’s time to question everything we eat and whether it makes sense. I.e., if we’re digging up a tuber to eat, as with potatoes, but tossing lots of greens into the compost, time to ask if the greens are edible too.

If we’re growing foods we can buy at the store, time to ask what we might grow that provides as much or more flavor and nutrition than what someone somewhere decided would be sold to mass market grocers.

If we’re planting new landscape plants, time to look first into planting edible plants. Time to landscape our yard into an edible landscape or foodscape permaculture that adds nutritional value and health benefits.

Of course… if for you, it’s about growing flowers and plants for beauty over food… then fantastic! We’re for all gardens and gardening!

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So let’s get plantin’!

Editor’s Note — Caution: Always use care before consuming any wild edible! We seek to bring you valid and verified information, however, GardensAll cannot be responsible for any adverse effects from the use of plants, nor any other content from this site. Similarly, none associated with GardensAll, including writers, contributors and founders, etc., can be held responsible for information provided anywhere on or related to this. Always seek advice from an appropriately licensed professional before using any plant for food or medicine.

Please also visit10)http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/strawberries.html for an abundance of gardening wisdom.

Original info sourced from:11)http://www.millracegardencentre.co.uk/blog/12-great-ground-covers-for-shade-and-sun/

You may also enjoy these articles:12)https://gardensall.com/permaculture-edible-landscaping-and-foraging-forest-gardens-for-wild-edibles/13)https://gardensall.com/landscaping-ideas-that-put-your-yard-to-work-for-you/


References   [ + ]

1. http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk
2, 4, 5, 6. http://MillRaceGardenCentre.co.uk
3. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3435100133.html
7. http://www.reneesgarden.com/about/index.htm
8, 10. http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/strawberries.html
9, 11. http://www.millracegardencentre.co.uk/blog/12-great-ground-covers-for-shade-and-sun/
12. https://gardensall.com/permaculture-edible-landscaping-and-foraging-forest-gardens-for-wild-edibles/
13. https://gardensall.com/landscaping-ideas-that-put-your-yard-to-work-for-you/