Purslane, Arugula and Flea Beetles

Purslane, purslane, purslane.

It’s pronounced purse-line, I believe. It’s scientific name is Portulaca oleracea. Is it a nuisance or a blessing for gardeners? I can’t seem to find a straight answer.

It is a weed, but some people eat it as it contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable, according to David Beaulieu’s article “Edible Landscaping with Purslane.” It’s alarming how fast it grows and I tend to wait until it is quite large because it is easier to pull out. But apparently it’s a culinary delicacy for some and there are whole cookbooks dedicated to its various uses. One friend at the farmer’s market told me I should sell it. I might try that. It has a tangy, zesty taste to it, almost like radish leaves, but far more succulent. It grows like crazy, even in dry soil. And when it rains? Fugghedabouddet! It takes over my garden in any space that doesn’t already have something growing in it. Apparently, it has some serious staying power.

Here are a couple of photos to familiarize yourself with it. I would love to hear from my readers what they think of it and whether they pull it and throw it away, pull it and eat it, or leave it to provide essential ground cover. I am hoping that when we get our chickens (Yes! We’re getting CHICKENS!) that they will enjoy it as they forage around the yard.

One photo is of purslane with another much-hated New Mexico weed tribulus terrestris, also known as goatheads, the second photo is of it growing next to my fennel plant, and the third is purslane next to its not-so-distant cousin, portulaca grandiflora, which people purposefully plant as a pretty ground-cover flower.

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Arugula & Flea Beetles

My second nuisance of the day is the flea beetle, a small pest that has completely annihilated my arugula. I first noticed them gnawing away at my newly transplanted arugula starters about a month ago. When I tried to touch one of them it sprang away like a beetle. So, on a hunch, I looked up “flea beetle” on Google and viola! There the little buggers were. I don’t spray pesticides on my plants so I decided to try the organic treatment and sprinkle diatomaceous earth, which warded them off for a short time but eventually they returned. Apparently they can be controlled if you plant garlic, onions, and chives around the crops that they like. I will start some seedlings again in my hotbed and then surround them with green, yellow, and red onions and chives. We’ll see if that works. Sad. I love arugula. [Sad-face emoticon here.] Above are a couple of photos of what they look like and the damage they did to my poor plants.

Other than that, the garden is progressing nicely. With just the right amount of water and lots and lots of sunshine and heat, our veggies and herbs are taking off. I love walking through my garden and smelling basil everywhere. It’s heaven.