Gardening

How to plant purslane

Portulaca oleracea

Purslane, also known as common purslane, garden purslane and verdolaga, is a plant of uncertain origin that currently grows spontaneously in much of the world. Its succulent leaves and branches can be eaten raw in salads or in cooked, braised or roasted dishes. It is appreciated in soups for having mucilaginous properties, thus acting as a thickener. It is also used as a medicinal herb.

The branches and leaves are very nutritious, being the vegetable richest in omega-3 fatty acids that is known. However, they also contain oxalic acid and therefore should not be consumed in large quantities. The purslane flavor is acidic, but it can vary with growing conditions and the time when the branches are harvested. In conditions of low water availability and/ or high temperatures, purslane changes its normal metabolic pathways to the acid metabolism of crassulaceae, which basically consists of absorbing carbon dioxide during the night and storing it as malic acid until the incidence of sunlight during the day, when malic acid is metabolized to glucose. In this way, plants growing in these conditions have a more acidic flavor if harvested in the early morning and less acidic if harvested in the late afternoon.

The seeds can also be eaten raw or cooked, but they are very small. The seeds can also be ground and added to cereal flour.

There are several natural and cultivated purslane varieties, including cultivars that are used as ornamental plants.

Climate

This is a plant adapted to different climatic conditions, growing well in the temperature range from 15 ° C to 35 ° C. It cannot withstand very low temperatures and frosts.

Brightness

It needs direct solar lighting.

Ground

It can be grown in any type of soil, even heavy and compacted soils. However, the ideal is a well-drained, light, deep, fertile soil, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 5.5 and 7.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil always moist, without being soaked. When well developed it can withstand periods of drought, but the branches and leaves will have better quality and flavor if water is not lacking.

Planting

Planting is done by seeds. Sow in the definitive location of the garden or in seedlings, seedling bags or paper cups, transplanting when the seedlings have 4 to 6 real leaves. The seeds should be covered only with a light layer of sieved soil or fine sawdust.

The recommended spacing varies from 30 to 80 cm between the planting lines and from 25 to 40 cm between the plants, depending on the size of the cultivated variety and the growing conditions.

Purslane can also be easily grown in pots.

Cultivation

Remove invasive plants that are competing for resources and nutrients.

Purslane can be an invasive plant that is difficult to eradicate, as each plant can produce a large number of small seeds and these can remain viable for more than a decade. However, it is also often considered a beneficial invader in plantations, as it is considered a companion plant for several others.

Harvest

The purslane branches and leaves can be harvested from 60 to 80 days after planting. Remove the branches or leaves individually when necessary or harvest them monthly, cutting the branches approximately 10 cm above the ground.

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