Plants For An Edible Pondscape

Ponds, much like lawns, are seriously underutilized. They are often wasted space, with dull mowed banks, perhaps with a only few lonely fish swimming in the depths. Ponds could, however, be a low maintenance edible landscape full of nutritious plants and fish that can feed people and the surrounding ecosystem.

Even if you don’t live on a farm or acreage with a pond, you can still grow water plants in any kind of small back yard pond, water feature, or even a hole in the ground. You can create a small pond feature off of a running stream, build a shallow taro field, sink an old bathtub into the ground, or use a five gallon bucket.

If you are planning to plant an existing pond, or create a new one, make sure that the spot receives at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day.  Most water dwelling plants do best with ample sunlight.  Also consider the proximity of surrounding trees.  If your pond is large, you should not have to worry terribly about it filling up with leaves and choking out the plants, but if it is small and shallow you will need to take care to remove too many accumulated leaves.

Water dwelling plants can either be planted directly in the pond or placed in pots, then planted.  Planting in pots can be advantageous for small ponds or for establishing plants at first in large ponds. Pots will also help contain aggressive growers which can quickly take over small pond areas.  If planting in a large pond, holes can be dug around the shoreline using rocks, bricks, or a layer or sand or gravel to hold the plants in place (they might float out otherwise).

Fish can be a perfect fertilizer for your edible pond plants.  Fish that are good for fertilizing your plants and are also good for eating include: Large or Small Mouth Bass, Crappie, Rainbow Trout (stocked only for winter catching), Perch, Sunfish, Bluegill, and Catfish.  If you don’t want the fish, you still might need to fertilize your pond.  Here is a link for making your own fertilizer.

List of plants for an edible pondscape:

Bulrush (Schoenoplectus californicus)- the young sprouts and shoots can be eaten in salads, the pollen is used as a flavoring, and the roots and unripe flower heads can be boiled as a vegetable.

Cattails (Typha latifolia, Typha angustifolia) Spikes, pollen and flowers in the spring, bottoms of stalks and root are best in fall and spring.

Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis)-eat the corms raw or use in a stir fry. Also has many medicinal uses. Plants are not very frost hardy, the tubers should be harvested at the end of the growing season and stored in a cool damp but frost-free position until the spring.

Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica)-use like spinach.  Wonderful green for Southeast Asian cuisine.

Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)-The flowers, seeds, young leaves, and “roots” (rhizomes) are all edible. Also has medicinal uses.

Taro (Colocasia esculenta)-must be cooked in order to eat.  Good roasted, made into a soup, or used to make Poi (a traditional Hawaiian food).Rainbow water parsley (Oenanthe javanica ‘Pink Flamingo’)-beautiful variegated leaves, a perennial, can have an aggressive growth habit.  Good raw or cooked.

Water mint (Mentha aquatica)-use like mint.

Watercress (Nasturtium officianale)-great raw or cooked.

Water parsnip (Berula erecta)-tastes like parsnip or carrot and is good for salad or soup.  Be very cautious to obtain this plant from a reliable source and not to confuse it with the very poisonous water hemlock.

Water Pepper (Persicaria hydropiper)-the seeds can be used in wasabi.

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica)-root can be grated to make real wasabi.  Also has medicinal uses.

Wild Rice (Zizania aquaticaZizania latifolia;Zizania palustrisZizania texana)The seeds of the annual species Zizania palustris are those most commonly harvested as grain.

To buy or sell plants grown locally in your area, plus much more, visit!

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