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Purslane, Claytonia 'Winter Purslane'
One of my all time salad leaf I ensure I plant late summer is Winter Purslane. It is perfect for salads, raw and cooked vegetable blends, soups and juicing when you have too much to harvest. Which can happen late spring. It is a leaf which often is forgotten. A green leaf with a lovely heart-like shape, at least it reminds me of hearts. A mid green colour with a thick fleshy texture. The fleshy textured leaf is full of moisture. It almost melts in your mouth as the outer skin is very fine.
It has a mild flavour and is a great addition to many styles of meals and is perfect to dress a dish.
Also Known as Miners Lettuce, Indian Lettuce. Taking its name from the California Gold Rush, where it was found growing from the soft soil as miners where excavating for a plethora of gold nuggets. The plant took its name from these miners, who consumed it to supplement their daily vitamin C intake and fight scurvy.
How to grow:
An extremely easy leaf to grow, especially good for the cooler seasons.
The seeds can be sown direct into prepared seed bed of soil. Ideal times are outside in August and September for an autumn/early winter crop, or sow under protection, from August to December and in March or April.
The seeds are tiny however do sow thinly so you do not need to thin out later. Water lightly the seed. Water lightly are appropriate to your climate and sowing times. The seeds do generally germinate quickly.
I find a late season sowing does not always equate to a autumn/ winter crop so this may vary depending upon your climatic conditions, wind and whether you are a frost pocket. However I can be patient as when the late winter begins to warm a little I have bumper harvests from the purslane plants.
Suitable for the beginner and preferring cooler temperatures, only requiring moisture on a consistent capacity. Very hardy and tolerating temperatures down to at least -15°C (5°F). It is also suitable for semi shaded locations. The plants will self seed and you can decide if you are happy for it to set seed the following year.
Personally I am happy for this especially as it provides a productive harvest when cropping is low after winter. Currently I have new planted plantlets in allocated areas and also self sow Winter Purslane self sown all around my swedes and parsnips. However they are not affecting the mature root vegetables soon to be harvested.
The plant creates a dome shaped form of leaf and stem. You can harvest individual leaf as required for salads and you can also cut a complete plant approximately 3-4 inches from the ground. Winter Purslane can be harvested like `Cut & Come Again` crops. One can cut the entire plant and expect to beable to do this at least 3 times. The latter cut maybe a less vigorous harvest and the plant may be beginning to flower however I continue to harvest to up to 4 times. Plus the flower is edible.
Use scissors or sharp gardening tools to cut the stems cleanly. Wash and keep in a bag in the fridge.
Now that is a crop worthy of the kitchen garden, vegetable garden and salad border.
Enjoy this fabulous vegetable leaf