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A bog, technically, is a wetland created from freshwater and an abundance of organic matter. Bogs are soft and spongy, characteristically found in cooler climates, with the largest bog being in Siberia. They can be formed in poorly draining basins, from lakes overrun with dense plant growth, or along the flattest floodplains of streams. They can take hundreds of years to form. It’s not these bogs we’ll be growing food in, though they could work.
The bog we are referring to here is that space in a suburban lawn or rural plot where the water tends to stand after rain, the patch that never seems to completely dry out. These spots might seem horrible places for putting in gardens, but with the right plants, it’s possible to make “bogs” productive, beautiful settings. Rather than filling them in, we can take advantage of the moisture and grow some special, and especially delicious, plants.
Source: TRUE FOOD TV/Youtube
Cranberries grow better in cold environments than in hot places, so they are perfect for those living in the northern US or Canada. They grow naturally in actual bogs, thriving in wet, acidic soil. This type of landscape can be replicated by continually mulching heavily, three or four inches’ worth, over that wet spot in the yard. This will further lock the moisture in place, preventing any chance of it evaporating during dry spells, and this also tends to make the soil acidic.
Source: The Barefooted Gardener/Youtube
Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a tropical plant that loves to grow in wet, acidic soil. Though it’s not a crop typical to US gardens, it can reach maturity in about seven months, so in places with long hot summers, it can be a true staple crop. This wetland crop closely resembles elephant ear, only it has a large edible tuber and massive leaves (3 feet long and wide) that can be eaten when prepared correctly. (They are toxic raw.) These are a stunning way to fill a wet spot.
Source: The Cargo Cult Café/Youtube
It’s very important to know that you are growing daylilies (genus Hemerocallis) before eating them, but they are good to go in lots of soil types, including quite moist areas. These plants are naturalized in the US and often grow along roadsides as “wild” plants. The tubers are edible, as are young shoots, flowers, and flower buds. They are quite happy to expand and fill a space with beautiful flowers and fun food.
4. Ostrich Fern
Source: Growing Wisdom/Youtube
This is the best choice for those who have a low spot that holds water and is in the shade. Ostrich fern is the right type of fern for collecting edible fiddleheads in the spring (not all ferns have edible fiddleheads). They thrive in the cooler environments characteristic of most of the United States, save the far southern reaches. Ostrich ferns can get very large, up to six feet wide and tall, and they tend to spread throughout a space if allowed to do so. Fiddleheads can be harvested in spring as a fun treat.
5. Sweet Flag
Source: Mountain Gardens/Youtube
Great for growing in garden ponds, along the edges of wetlands, or in boggy areas, sweet flag (Acorus calamus) is a type of grass with rhizomes that have a flavor of something like ginger and can be candied the same way. Young stalks and leaves are edible in the spring and work in salads. It has been used medicinally for centuries as well. This is a great border plant for wet spots and can be a part of a full bog garden.
Source: Wicked Kitchen/Youtube
A favorite culinary herb for tea and flavoring dishes, particularly desserts, mint is very tolerant of wet soil and often performs much better in it. There are tons of types of mint, and they all tend to spread and take over spaces when planted. A fun thing to do in a boggy spot is to plant several different varieties of mint and just let them go after it. Mint is rewarding because it is so easy to grow, but it is notorious for getting out of control in manicured gardens.
7. Duck Potato
Duck potato is a wild, wetland plant that can be grown in very wet soil or as an emergent in ponds and lakes. It has pretty, arrow-shaped leaves and spreads via runners underneath the soil. It has been used as food and medicine since pre-colonialism. The corms, or tubers, can be baked, boiled, or roasted like actual potatoes. These tubers are about the size of golf balls, and they can be plentiful when duck potatoes are allowed to grow freely.
In short, just because there is a low spot on the lawn doesn’t mean it can’t be used to grow something. It can potentially grow something that’s both beautiful and good to eat.
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