|A new purslane plant|
Purslane has a long taproot and tolerates poor soil and drought conditions. It's ideally suited for my landscape. A succulent, purslane is resistant to most herbicides used in home gardens. It can propagate from little stem and leaf pieces left behind after pulling it. Its small yellow flowers can bloom throughout the year, any time after a rain or good watering, and quickly release dozens of seeds and they can remain viable for 40 years.
Purslane is not native to my neighborhood. My previous garden was inundated with it and I spent many hours pulling the prostrate plants because no other method of weed control is as effective. When I brought some transplants from that garden to the one I have now, purslane seeds tagged along.
|Trying to gain a foothold|
Soon after putting those transplants in my new garden, purslane would occasionally pop up nearby and I was quick to eliminate it. I thought it was effectively eradicated because it's been more than a year since I pulled the last plant. Then I literally stumbled into a seldom-traveled section of my garden and discovered it covering the ground. With its detested image burned in my mind I searched to determine its range and soon found it in the prairie grass outside of my garden borders too.
Without my immediate effort to take control, I could imagine it taking over and running rampant through the landscape. I pulled every plant I found and scoured the yard for every possible foothold. Most importantly, I've repeated this effort every day since the first discovery.
Purslane is not a good candidate for the compost pile. The possibility of plant pieces or seeds finding their way into other garden areas through the compost is too great. Discarding it is the only option. Rather than throw it in the trash, I decided to let the chickens take care of the problem. Purslane is eaten in many areas of the world as a nutritious salad vegetable and my chickens loved it.
There are many weeds that can quickly take over a garden. We've all seen fields covered by dandelions and know they can be difficult to eliminate from a lawn or flower bed. It takes dedication, work, and often years to remove their presence. And even when it appears a weed is gone, it can return without constant dedication and vigilance.
I'd grown a bit complacent when it comes to purslane in my garden. My vegetable and flower beds are as weed-free as they can be because I pull little weeds when they first sprout in the mulch. The paths between my raised beds and the areas surrounding them aren't so clean. Weeds grow with more freedom in those spots and I deal with them all at once every month or two in the summer. That's how purslane crept in so quickly.
Now I have to be more proactive if I want to stay ahead of this invasion. The best way to eradicate a weed is to keep it from flowering and going to seed. When all of the weed seeds that are already in the soil sprout and begin to grow, kill or remove them before they can reproduce. There may be thousands of seeds that make the effort, but when the last one is gone the entire species is gone. If a single weed is allowed to set seed, the whole weed control process has to begin again.
I have no idea how many seeds are out there. Purslane seeds don't germinate when they're buried deep in the ground. Tilling and turning over the soil brings dormant seeds to the surface to sprout and that normal gardening activity is bound to introduce more weeds into my garden.There are many days of pulling ahead.
Walking through my garden is a daily activity. I check for new growth, flowers, vegetables, and fruit every day. Now those normal tasks join with purslane detection. I've resolved to eliminate it. It won't be easy, but it is necessary.
Link to "Weeding Your Garden."