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David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 892
I think the ground cover thing is difficult if you want something really low and edible as a green. If you can bypass the greens idea cranberries make good but very aggressive ground cover. If you can relate to tubers then groundnut or hog peanut make good low ground cover.

Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 2,197
David's right - hog peanut and groundnut are excellent choices.
Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 361
I do have lots of hog peanut, neat little plant, but not groundnut yet. Does groundnut stay running on the ground or will it grow up and inundate small trees? I'm looking for plants that will spread and thrive under fruit trees and block weed growth. I was thinking more of cooking greens as fruiting seems to be hard in the shade for most plants. I wasn't thinking of tubers only because I was thinking that I didn't want to dig in the root zone of the trees, but I do think that N2 fixers like these two would be good even if I didn't harvest them too heavily. Thanks.
Jesse S.
user 29709632
Harrison, ME
Post #: 48
Groundnut does climb if provided with support, it doesn't seem to be a vigorous grower in my plot, with the shoots twining up to around 3-4' high. Beautiful aromatic blooms now. I've found plants and tubers growing in sandy moist soil around a road culvert outlet just down road from me. That same spot also provided me with linden seedlings(spring greens).
A technique I used around my first year trees this year was transplanting white clover runners that I'd weeded out of my garden into the cultivated area I'd dug out to plant the tree, and also planting a dozen or so shell peas on the north side of that zone, some chives, fennel, lemonbalm, garlic, etc to the south, comfrey around the 6' perimeter. The peas used the young tree as their trellis, and I've ended up with quite a nice crop from and area I've always simply smother-mulched. I don't think a bit of shallow cultivation or harvesting harms tree's roots all that much if it's done with care and only in restricted areas(not all around the tree all at once)- the surface feeder roots are constantly being generated, and dying off depending on wetness and seasonality. I think stirring things up in the root zone could be beneficial if done in moderation and timed right.
A long abandoned homestead I visited this spring had some old apple trees that provided a model of local understory crops. Growing in the shade of these tree were stonecrop sedum, red currants and wood nettle in solid carpets!
David S.
Washington, ME
Post #: 894
Geez.... I should have thought of this before. A really good groundcover for shade that is low and edible is wild violets! The leaves are an excellent salad green that can really bulk up the bowl. The flowers are good too but more of a garnish than something substantial. The leaves are not tremendously assertive in flavor but good and you can cut with abandon. They grow in carpet-like fashion on the north side of my house. I actually got them by transplanting moss (speaking of low shady ground cover).

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