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Edible ground covers are safe option in fire country

“When you plant something, you invest in a beautiful future amid a stressful, chaotic and, at times, downright appalling world.” – Monty Don

Welcome to our gardening adventure. Let's grow it together!

Imagine sitting in a garden that is lush and beautiful. Even in the spaces between the paving stones, soft, lush green is enhanced with tiny white flowers. Looking closer, you see delicate alpine strawberries tucked among the white, starlike flowers and deep green leaves that come in triplicate. You pluck a berry, and a condensed strawberry sweetness graces your taste buds. Alpine strawberries are a hearty, drought-tolerant ground cover. They supposedly don't appreciate being stepped on, but from our personal experience, they don't seem too affected. They can also be transplanted and re-rooted, which seems to enlarge the leaves and berries.

There are two basic types of garden strawberries: everbearing (which bloom and fruit throughout the growing season) and Junebearers (which produce fruit in spring). Strawberry plants grow runners that send out shoots for new plants. Once the new plants are established, the runner strand can be cut. If you have many runners, you can place small pots or containers with growing medium and let the new strawberries root in the container. They make a nice gift.

Five reasons to grow edible ground covers:

They help keep weeds at bay.

They prevent soil erosion.

They conserve moisture and boost soil fertility.

They feed pollinators.

Strawberry flowers and other edible ground covers make lovely garnishes for desserts and salads. Their leaves can flavor tea.

Five additional edible ground covers:

Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox) forms a mat with tiny purple flowers. It prefers full sun and most soils. Avoid overwatering. Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) blooms in shades of pink and purple in early summer. Both are beautiful between paving stones. Once established, walking on them releases a delightful scent. Place them between paving stones to help them last longer.

Creeping Rosemary (Salvia rosemarinus ‘prostratus’) is drought-tolerant and prefers dry, sandy soil. Prune after flowering to encourage dense growth.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) repels caterpillars, aphids, and leafhoppers in addition to its culinary uses.

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) adds flavor to organic tea.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), often considered a weed, complements salads, bread, and vegetables. It feels cool underfoot.

Five garden tasks for September:

Plant directly in the ground: beets, carrots, cilantro, dill, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips.

Start indoors: bok choy, endive, lettuce and onions.

Continuously weed to maintain your garden.

Enrich garden soil with a few inches of organic compost.

Share extra produce with those in need, neighbors, friends and family.

Email your gardening thoughts and questions to Val at cab.valery@gmail.com. Together, we can help each other meet our gardening needs and aspirations.

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