Purslane in the Kitchen Garden

Purslane in the Kitchen Garden
Purslane has found favor among kitchen gardeners for hundreds of years. A popular vegetable and salad green, this was cultivated in the 1600’s in England.

It appears in the kitchen garden chapter of John Parkinson’s classic gardening book, “A Garden of Pleasant Flowers,” which was published in 1629. He recommended sowing the seeds in April for summer crops, and in the late summer as a second crop that could be harvested until winter.

Purslane was one of the vegetables included in the classic book, “The Vegetable Garden” by MM. Vilmorin-Andrieux. This was originally published in 1885.

This was a favored crop in Colonial America, especially among the French. The seeds were among the first shipments of seeds to the early American colonies. John Winthrop, Jr. brought some among his vegetable seeds from England in 1631.

Once the plant was introduced to the New World, it began to self sow. The 1986 edition of Wyman’s Gardening Encyclopedia, considered it to be a pest, and described it as “probably the worst weed troubling all gardeners throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

Though some gardeners consider it to be a weed, this plant is very nutritious, which gives us even more reason to grow it in kitchen gardens.

If you’re looking for nutritious salad greens, this is an excellent choice. According to the USDA “Composition of Foods” table, raw purslane is among the most nutritious of greens when eaten raw.

It is a good source of calcium, providing 467 milligrams for each 100 grams serving and about half as much phosphorus. This green is actually a much better source of iron than spinach.

Considered a heart-healthy plant, this is high in Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane is extremely high in beta carotene and anti-oxidants. This has 11,340 International units of Vitamin A per 100 gram serving.

At the same time it also supplies some niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. It even has 7.7 grams of protein. All in all, this is a very, nutritious plant.

Nicholas Culpeper discussed various uses for this plant in his herbal. Both the seeds and leaves have medicinal properties. Gerard also promoted its use in salads and as an herbal plant.

Organic seeds of golden purslane are available from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a worker-owned coop. Territorial Seed Co. also carries both golden purslane and the regular kitchen garden purslane seed.

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