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image of Purslane
Dr. Health Benefits

A couple of years ago I went through a phase of wanting to grow various salad plants. I’ve had some success with tomatoes in tubs, particularly the Roma variety. Lettuce has been sporadic and this year is a disaster mainly due to a ferocious heatwave in May.

I also tried a few plants I could use in salads that were a little more exotic than usual. All failed miserably and again I put it down to long hot summers here in Cyprus.

This year has been something of an eye opener because one of the seeds I planted two years ago was Purslane and against all odds it’s started to grow, having spent two years resting! When it first started sprouting up I had to check to see what it was and once confirmed I tasted it and was pleasantly surprised. Purslane’s leaves are edible with a slightly lemony aftertaste and is great to put into salads. But it’s received some good and bad press over the years.

William Cobbett, an 18th century farmer, journalist and MP for Oldham, said of Purslane that it was “eaten by Frenchmen and pigs when they can get nothing else.”

Its healing properties were so well thought of by Pliny the Elder (a Roman author and naturalist) he advised wearing the plant to expel all evil. Personally I think he got it wrong, I think Purslane is the demon seed because it’s now growing everywhere and I can’t seem to be able to stop it from growing. It’s popped up in the front garden, the only tiny bit of real garden I have and virtually all my planters now have Purslane creeping into them.

The problem is that because I use tubs and a variety of planters to grown flowers, fruit and salad plants, I tend to recycle the soil. Naturally in doing that I’m leaving myself open to an invasion like Purslane, so I either live with it, eat it and carry on, or try to remove it every time it shows its head. I’m doing both at the moment and so far I’m winning. After all, what’s it going to do? Run away from me?

Tom Kane © 2018

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