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This blog chronicles my journey through the Hawaii County Master Gardener program and beyond...

The Experiment Failed! Or did it?

>> Saturday, August 14, 2010

My experiment in ground covers failed to suppress our prolific Hawaiian weeds. I planted a cutting of ornamental sweet potato. It grew extremely well almost too well.  Much pruning would be required if I kept it in the landscape.  The plant is beautiful and looked great next to the black lava rock.  But,  Friday, I yanked it out of ground as a failed attempt at weed suppression.  To my surprise, I found small and large tubers!  Yes, sweet potatoes!  I Googled it and apparently these tubers are editable, not sure what they will taste like...

Back to weed suppressing ground covers.   I am also experimenting with an herb cutting a friend gave me.  I saw it growing as a ground cover in their yard. Looks like it can be pruned to create a thick mat.  It is currently growing quite well.  Only time will tell...


Kimberly August 14, 2010 at 6:21 PM  

I like the sweet potato...I think the foliage is really pretty. I use a lot of dwarf oyster plant, but that's because I enjoy the color combo. It has a clumping habit vs. a spreading habit...not the invasive type.

Andrea August 15, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

HI i am new here, just clicked your site from Floridagirl's. That sweet potato is a very healthy plant. We eat the young tops as vegetables, you can also boil them and the liquid is very nutritious. It is also very basic so can drink it to nutralize acidity in the system esp the tummy. The roots can be microwaved or fried and with a little sugar can be delicious. haha. i love the purple variety with white flesh and a little purple streaks.

Floridagirl August 16, 2010 at 2:39 AM  

I didn't know that ornamental sweet potatoes were edible! I know what you mean, though. I can't seem to find ANYTHING that will suppress our Florida weeds. I planted Asiatic jasmine last year in hopes that it would thicken up as a nice groundcover. I guess time will tell, as so far, the area has just been a weeding nightmare.

Andrea August 16, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

hello also Floridagirl. Susan, i just would like to take advantage os FG's comment also. If weeds will see the light they will thrive, they are really difficult to suppress. So the ultimate purpose must be not to let them outsmart your preferred plant. A fast growing plant might do that, example is Coleus blumei. It grows fast and covers an area in a snapshot, with bigger leaves that will cover the weeds. Plant them near each other to cover every weed. That's the purpose why plastic mulches are used in vegetable plots with holes just for the vegies. Green plants are killed if not able to photosynthesize.

Susan August 16, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

Andrea & Floridagirl,
Mahalo for the ground cover advice. I was not familiar with Asiatic jamine, but googled it. I never thought of using the Coleus blumei, but that could be interesting. I am also considering perennial peanut, which can be mowed and walked on...

Julie August 16, 2010 at 9:34 PM  

Bravo! Edible landscapes are my favorites ; )

Cuban oregano and perennial peanut have not been good weedblockers for me Susan but we are probably drier than you. I am currently experimenting with what i think is Tradescantia pallida, such a beautiful purple color! Too soon to tell if it will be a good weedblocker or not but i recently saw it paired with some large, orange bromeliads and it was a show stopper.
Things that have worked well for me are Rhoeo, Helichrysum (the silver one, not the one called limelight), rose geranium, lantana, wedelia and Plectranthus. A judicious squirt or two of Fusilade works wonders ; ) Some of the native plants might be worth a look as well.

Anonymous August 20, 2010 at 9:12 AM  

Hi Susan, I just found your blog!

Let us know the results of your weed suppression experiments... In Ninole, I tried weed mat around a few trees; weeds crawl over the mat, or eventually poke through it! A thick (as in 3-4 inches) of wood chips works for a while. Weeds grow on cinder, like they don't care it's not much soil-like! Weeds that grow in cinder are easier to pull out than those which grow in soil (especially the clay soils).

Mint would be an interesting choice if it weren't that prolific. It's hard to contain!

My sweet potato plot doesn't have much weeds; the leaves cover the ground densely enough to prevent weeds from getting a hold. The potatoes are good too, very sweet!

Don't give up, even though weeds will always seem to win...

Another MG wanna be
Ninole, Hamahua Coast

abigail August 30, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

what beautiful foliage on the sweet potato! and after growing them in my garden, I'm not at all surprised it went a bit crazy!

islandgal246 October 1, 2010 at 8:57 PM  

Hello from Barbados.......We buy and grow those sweet potato tubers here on my island. They sell for 1.50 US a pound and that is cheap. Sometimes they go as 3.00 US a pound. We make lots of stuff from them.

Anonymous October 8, 2012 at 1:05 PM  

Hi I live in Hawaii as well. That looks like Uala, hawaiian for Molokai Purple Sweet potato

Eat away

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