I can get really tired of weeding and become irritated when new ones pop up in the garden, especially in the areas that border my veg plots – AKA ‘The Weed Zones’! So I decided I would like to plant something there that would compete and displace the weeds, preferably something that is useful to the veg garden; such as attracting insects, or repelling pests or has some edible use.
I settled for Penny Royal for several reasons:
- It is a matting ground cover
- It grows quickly
- It has a pungent aroma that repels some garden pests (or I would assume disguises the smell of the veggies from the pests)
- Water friendly because it belongs to the mint family
- Low maintenance
- Flowers to attract beneficial insects
- Leaves are used for herbal mint tea or can be applied to treat insect stings
As well as all the benefits of Penny Royal by itself; it acts as a living or green mulch with most of the benefits that traditional (dry) mulch also has:
- Retains water (green ground cover is able to capture water from just 1mm of rain!)
- Keeps the soil warmer for longer during the winter months and cool in summer
- Controls weeds
- Assists with maintaining a healthy soil community (microbes and small insects can take shelter)
I would suggest either pruning or digging out sections with a spade that start to invade the veg plots. The clumps you remove that have roots can be easily replanted elsewhere and it’ll keep on growing there – propagating Penny Royal could not be easier!
Unfortunately, the following drought years saw the disappearance of the penny royal, due to lack of water as I wasn’t going to waste water on them when we had vegetables suffering from the drought. In the mean time, the kidney weeds have taken over the role and I think that they may be more robust and drought-tolerant than the penny royal. I am trying to selectively weed out the kidney weeds in favor for the trefoil clovers now… Read more about the clover ground covers (and green manure).