Thursday, July 4, 2013

Purslane: A Blessing and a curse

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As part of my annual penance for being a man, I put in a garden to provide for the family and other assorted people who wander through the house and yard. For more years than I care to count, I have had several enemies in this quest to become the kind of provider I long to become. Deer, quail, raccoons, and rabbits are major hindrances in this quest, but if I was just a little more of a man, I would pull out my bow and arrows or trusty rifle and kill them for meat. Maybe when the apocalypse arrives I’ll have to do that, but so far all I’ve done is grumble a lot and, well, I did buy a little pistol that shoots steel bb’s. But it’s hard to get out there and even shoot the bb’s when the rest of the household is fawning over how cute the little bunnies or quail are. I did draw the line, however, when the raccoons moved into the attic.
So, animals are somewhat of a problem, but even more problematic are weeds. They have to be pulled out at regular intervals all through the growing season. One weed stands at the top of the heap as far as its pestilential qualities: purslane. This import from the Middle East can literally take over the garden in a week. I pull and till and hoe them out and they come right back. The leaves and stems will resprout if left in the soil. The plants each produce thousands of seeds each year and–I just learned this–the seeds can remain dormant in your soil for 30-40 years and then still sprout.
Well, I discovered something else this summer. Actually, I have known this fact for some time, but I have never acted on it. You can eat purslane. The number one weed enemy in my garden is edible. And even though I had been told this in scouts many years ago, I thought it might be like some of those other things I learned in scouts. You know. Stuff like if polluted water flows over a hundred yards of  rocks, then it would be alright to drink it. Or if you go down to the lake in the middle of the night when the moon is full and howl like a wolf, you will turn into a werewolf. Neither of these (and lots of other things I was told in scouts) are true, and I should know, I tried them. 

Well, back to purslane. I decided, in spite of my reservations about what I learned in scouts, to try and eat some purslane. I picked a big pot full and still did not put a dent in the crop growing in my garden. Then I cleaned and trimmed it, put it in some water and boiled it, added some butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice and...Wow! It was delicious. Every bit as good as spinach or beet greens and according to Wikipedia, very nutritious. So, I am ready to fight back. Purslane watch out. I plan to eat my way out of my weed problem. In fact, I might be convinced to to let a few of them stay...if they behave themselves.