Purslane and Smartweed

There seem to be about a half-dozen different weeds that are determined to grow at the Saratoga Springs Community Garden at Wesley. I’ve written about lambsquarters and crabgrass before. Here are two more uninvited guests you might want to know.

The first pictured below is common purslane. It is an edible weed when small so pluck it as a seedling and bring it home for a salad garnish. Do not consider growing it pass a small plant size in your plot as it is difficult to eradicate once it has a foothold, can spread to three feet and produces numerous seeds. The weed has distinctive succulent foliage that is edged with a tint of red. Using a hoe with this plant isn’t advised as it can re-root if left on the soil.

I know some gardeners have let lambsquarters grow in their beds after hearing it is edible. It is no longer edible once tall and produces 50,000 seeds per plant. You might want to pull them out now.

Pictured below is Pennsylvania smartweed. Touching this plant causes dermatitis for some people. If you want to see an interesting website on how this plant was used medicinally, go to: http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/pages/smartweed.html

No matter how many times we weed, new ones will appear during the growing season. Don’t give up. It is important to weed as a single weed produces thousands of seeds, pulls nutrients and moisture away from desired plants, and provides shelter for insects making it harder for a gardener to grow strong, healthy plants.

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