Common Purslane by pellaea
I have not seen it growing in my garden yet, because common purslane – Portulaca oleracea is a summer annual weed species that is abundant throughout the world invading vegetable gardens, bare areas, low-maintenance lawns, ornamental plantings, and agricultural areas. Though not a native, no one knows how common purslane arrived in North America. And though it is considered a weed here, it is used as a leaf vegetable in other parts of the world.
Common purslane is considered one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. It has more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant, more beta carotene than spinach as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium. (see here)
If you don’t want common purslane growing n your garden, it is not a difficult weed to eliminate- if you have a small garden. Hand pulling is very easy especially when the plant is young. And using mulch to smother weeds is always a good idea. Though TheGardenLady does not recommend chemicals, there are many herbicides on the market that will kill purslane. Read instructions carefully and be doubly careful using chemicals near or in your vegetable garden.
However, when I read about how much of the produce we buy in the supermarkets is raised to look perfect but not for its nutrients as shown in this Mother Jones article I think we gardeners are foolish to not take advantage of the bounty that Mother Nature gives us for free in our gardens. We insult Mother Nature by calling them weeds. Why should we just pull out and toss these nutrient rich “weeds”? And when we use toxic chemicals to kill these nutritious weeds we are adding both insult and injury to the good earth that is trying to nurture us.
We should harvest these nutritional weeds during their short growing season as we would any other vegetable we grow. Articles abound about Americans wasting food and the amount; but no one talks about how we gardeners are destroying nutritious weeds growing in our front or back yards. Our great grandmothers weren’t so foolish.
More of the great restaurants are incorporating “weeds” in their menus so why shouldn’t we put these “weeds” in our foods that we cook at home? And if you don’t want to eat your nutritious weeds, perhaps you can locate a gourmet restaurant who would buy the weeds from you as one business lady in NJ does.
If you do go into a little business, be sure you know your weeds and know how you will have to be accountable for what you harvest and sell. (see here) (PS The head chef of the top rated restaurant in the world, NOMA in Denmark “forages for local ingredients in the forests outside his restaurant” (see here).)
Any reader of TheGardenLady who has a favorite common purslane or any other nutritious weed recipe, please share it with the rest of us.