Clover as groundcover between beds?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Legless_Marine, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. Legless_Marine

    Legless_Marine Junior Member

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    I'm seeking a groundcover for the ungardened space in my yard, between and around my raised garden beds. Initially I was thinking of using Clover, but decided not to out of risk that it may infect my garden beds, and instead settled on Creeping thyme.

    Multiple sowings of of Creeping thyme seed havn't taken, despite copious watering. There's too much area to make it feasible to germinate and plant plugs.

    Thus, I'm thinking of clover again.... Although it was initially disqualified out of concern it may infect my beds, I'm now thinking that's not a big deal... It doesn't grow high enough to shade out my veggies, and at worst would serve as a living mulch/green manure. I believe it has shallow roots which means it wouldn't be stealing nutrients/water from deeper rooted plants.

    Before I take the clover plunge, I'd like to hear others' thoughts and experiences on clover as a groundcover around gardens...
     
  2. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Ummmmm... I deliberately 'infect' my vegie patch with clover
     
  3. Legless_Marine

    Legless_Marine Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    How has that worked out for you? Do you have any concerns about competition, or otherwise?

    Please share...
     
  4. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Hi,
    I'v encouraged clover in the paths between my beds after trying many different solutions. I have 3 - 4 foot wide beds with 1 foot paths. My beds have no edging so i figure that whatever grows in the paths will invade the beds a little. I tryed mulching the paths but there is simply too big an area to make this viable.
    I'v found clover to be very effective in out competing other less desirable plants in the paths, i have white clover and am able to cut the paths 2 or 3 times a year and rake up the mulching/composting materials. clover copes well with the constant foot traffic.
    It does invade the sides of the growing beds a little bit. Most of the time this is not a problem. For some crops though it can be a pain. Carrots near the clover tend to fork for instance.
    Also don't let the clover seed (keep cutting it) unless you want it in your beds as well.
    perenial white or pink clover are good varieties. avoid sub clovers as they spread more.
    IG
     
  5. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Use Lucerne. Does not spread and when established will do an excellent job.

    For more information track down "Clever Clover" Richard Stirzaker CSIRO.
     
  6. Legless_Marine

    Legless_Marine Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Seems to grow fairly high, and require a fair bit of replanting from the wiki entry...
     
  7. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Sorry legless I should have been more comprehensive.

    I use clover as a green manure crop, so I mostly cut it or dig it in before it flowers. If some get in the beds I tend to let it hang around, especially over winter just to protect the soil from frosts, unless it is in the way. At the moment I would still consider it a more desirable invader than most of the other weeds we have. As IntensiveGardener mentioned, I clean it up well before I put root vegies in, but I find it is much easier to deal with than other weeds. If you cut them before flowering you will limit the spread and get the most value out of them as a green manure crop.

    I have a few patches of lucerne in among the paths and around my vege patches too, I just cut it and toss the stuff on the beds as mulch. I think the issue is not so much with resowing (as they live for about 6 or 7 years) but with getting them established in the first place.
     
  8. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Legless_Marine My thoughts exactly. Establishment is the issue. Once established cut and use as mulch as often as you wish.
     
  9. Legless_Marine

    Legless_Marine Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Thanks for the feedback everyone... I'm really interested in clover, though. I do not think lucerne will suit my purposes.

    Plus, I *like* clover. I just want to find out what the downside to clover is before I put it around my garden beds.
     
  10. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Hard to grow thyme from seed. In some varieties the first plant up gives off an inhibitor that stops the germination of other plants
    Probably best to grow from store-bought plants
    Where are you?
    Unless you have a Mediterranean climate or colder many thymes will struggle. They like full sun, no shade, excellent drainage and lots of chalk/dolomite.
    Lemon thyme will take a lot of water and humidity and is fairly low growing and delicious in most things

    My next door neighbor has two lovely clovers growing in his lawn One with a big (50c piece) white flower and the other with a pinkish-red one. I have just stolen a couple of plants.
    I have seen these sold as "shamrocks" in nurseries. I doubt if they would be hard to grow or would be detrimental to vegies or invasive.
     
  11. trimnut2

    trimnut2 Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Lucerne is my favourite clover! I like lucerne because, unlike clover, it draws nutrients and water only from immediately below and for any considerable depth (up to 10 m) under the actual plant. Lucerne will not spread. Lucerne does not draw nutrients or water from the normal rooting profile of most plants. Lucerne is almost entirely complimentary for any vegies growing alongside. Lucerne can fix a remarkable amount of nitrogen. Lucerne continues to grow in dry times is it if able to draw moisture from below. Lucerne produces an excellent mulch.

    (I acknowledge that soil capillary actions means that soil moisture levels equalise. At a certain point any moisture is any plants so to speak.)

    Clover spreads, clover draws nutrient and water (at times lots of it), from the normal rooting profile of other plants. Clover can be difficult to kill.

    Michaelangelica White clover is one of the whites possibly Haifa White. Pinkish red tinge possibly Berseem.
    Both are slow spreaders. Both will out compete most vegies. Establish after vegies are planted and stay on top of them. Neither are recommended as undersowing species. The flowers of each species are edible and at times nicely so.
     
  12. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Thanks trimnut2
     
  13. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Yeah, Lucerne ROCKS the garden!
     
  14. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Lucern is better for the garden, and produces A grade mulch. I grow it under my raspberries and in beds between the vegies. It does produce more biomass, and have much deeper roots.
    Unfortunately it is very hard it germinate in my experience and i have at times grown it as seedlings and transplanted.
    For paths i tryed lucern but unfortunately it died of due to the constant trampling. Ground covering clover seems much more suited to being walked on. Also perenial white clover is the only legume which fixes more nitrogen than it uses to grow.
    Another option is Medic or vetch.
    Clever clover is a winter growing anual clover available from diggers seeds. It is usefull for sowing in autaum after then summer vegies to provide a living mulch over winter which will then die off in late spring in time for summer planting. It could be used in paths but i prefer a perenial since you only have to sow it once.
    IG
     
  15. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    https://www.ballardseeds.com.au/guide.php?group=11
    if you are using organic seed it may be more difficult to germinate because it is not covered in fungicides like thiram etc. Try a "sandwich"- put the seed between layers of vermiculite, in your seed trays. Vermiculte is sterile an may cut down on fungal problems.
    Alternatively you could microwave your seed growing mix.
    https://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cach ... erne&hl=en

    https://www.cropscience.org.au/icsc2004/ ... netttp.htm

    Lucerne contains saponins which may effect the growth or germination of some species of plants
    https://pcp.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/conte ... t/16/5/857
     
  16. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Lucerne doesn't grow well in acidic soil, so make sure what your pH is. It has to be 6.8 or higher.
     
  17. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Clover as groundcover between beds?

    Thats interesting, How much higher do you know?
    Does it like lime or dolomite?
    Where was it native to, originally?
     

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