The joy of weeds, or an unexpected treasure in the garden

It’s September and the nights are cool and I’m as is typical in late August and early fall, behind on weeding—but the weeding has uncovered some treasures.  Growing all over the Redina bed (that leafy lettuce that’s been harvested for the shares these last two weeks) is a succulent that looks much like a jade plant.

This is a beautiful plant.  I potted some and it’s flourished inside, making a lovely houseplant.  And thanks to the Master Gardeners who are next door to me at the Market, I’ve identified the plant as Purslane. IMAG0152 (1)

Nature never ceases to surprise.  What everyone who worked for me would have gone, “another weed” and yanked is actually an ancient medicinal  plant, native to India and Persia.

Now a common “invasive” weed, Purslane was used to treat arthritis and inflammatory diseases, according to a page on Purslane by Prairie Land  Community Agriculture.

Purslane has high levels of alpha linolenic acid, or that type of Omega 3 fatty acid  that is found in fish oil.  But Purslane tastes much better than fish oil.  I  tried the cucumber/purslane/yogurt salad recipe found in Praireland and loved it.  What an amazing wild  edible and yet it’s considered another “weed” to be eliminated.

As for other farm news, I’ve been preoccupied with building infrastructure for the poultry—106 ten day old birds and 25 two day old birds sit in plastic  tubs in my kitchen under lamps.  Floyd is starting on their winterized mobile coop, and the new proposed FDA rules seem crazy—I can’t allow pastured  poultry to be exposed to wild birds.  Here is there about 8 acres of fenced pasture, and right now, the older birds free-range when I’m home to ensure  that they go in to roost safely.  The idea of covering all that with netting to meet National Organic Program safety standards is a bit much.   As for other  news, the Non-GMO Project Verified application is in and I’m waiting for next steps.

The garden is almost at the next phase where the beans planted at the beginning of August are just about ready to bear.  The deer sabotaged most of my beans this year so these are right next to the house which has helped.  Squash planted the same day also look beautiful and should bear in the next two weeks.  Carrots and cilantro planted in June are thriving and we’ll have another good crop of carrots on the way.  Much of the rest of the garden is winding down; tomatoes are slowing a lot, and I’m mowing and clearing and leaving sections of the garden fallow for the winter.

The basil has a blight, and I cut all the plants down but am starting fresh seed in the greenhouse.   The parsley is doing okay but not quite as well as last year, so fresh plants are being started also—the greenhouse will be used for herbs year round.

Time to get back to the garden.

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