Portulak (Portulaca oleracea) originates from Africa and Asia Minor and belongs to the family of the same name of the Portulak family (Portulacaceae). The famous Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) already mentioned the annual wild vegetable and aromatic herb in her writings.
Not to be confused is the real purslane, also called summer purslane or vegetable purslane, with the frost-resistant winter purslane (Claytonia perfoliata), which is also used as a wild vegetable. It also bears the name Winterpostelein or Tellerkraut and is also annual, but belongs to a completely different plant family. His original homeland are the coastal regions of North America. It appears as a neophyte in many vegetable gardens in this country.
The shoots of this robust summer portoulak have a slightly nutty-sour, salty taste. Portulaca contains many vitamins, essential oils and blood-purifying omega-3 fatty acids.
Appearance and growth
The annual vegetable purslane forms reddish stems with reverse ovoid, fleshy, green or yellowish-green leaves. From May to October small yellowish or white flowers appear in the leaf axils or on the shoot tips. Portulaca grows rapidly and bushy and grows to a height of between 10 and 30 centimeters.
Location and soil
Summer porcupine prefers warm, sunny locations as well as loose, permeable and rather sandy soils, which should not be too moist.
Sowing and planting
Normally summer purslane is sown directly in broad cubes or in rows with a distance of 20 centimeters from the beginning of May. Depending on the region, the last sowing should take place according to the ice saints by the end of August or mid-September. It is best to sow portulaca in several sets every two weeks throughout the season. Cover the seeds only lightly with soil, as they germinate better when exposed well, and then isolate the young plants to 15 to 20 centimeters. A pre-culture of the young plants is also possible, but usually not useful, as the plants grow quickly and are very uncomplicated to grow. For pre-culture in multi-pot plates or peat well pots, the temperature should be at least 18 degrees Celsius. The fastest germination of summer portoulak is at 30 degrees.
Portulaca grows fast and is very frugal. However, the leaves become larger and softer when two litres of ripe compost are raked flat into the soil during bed preparation. However, he does not need an extra ration of fertilizer. The water is only watered during persistent drought, as the plants cope well with temporary water shortages thanks to their storage leaves. However, about a week before the harvest, on drier soils, a good dose of water is recommended to make the leaves firm and bouncy.
Harvesting and recycling
In warm summers you can harvest purslane four to six weeks after sowing. The younger leaves and stems are prepared as raw vegetables or salad. Leave the lower third of the plants standing – it then sprouts again and forms new stems and leaves. In this way you can harvest purslane two to three times. As soon as the flowers open, the leaves become inedible because they now store many bitter substances. Because of its salty and nutty taste, you should be sparing with salt when preparing and using purslane. With its spicy, slightly sour taste, purslane fits well in summery mixed salads, but also finely chopped in soups, as a topping for bread or in herb quark, it has proven its worth. You can also simmer or stew purslane like spinach. The flower buds have a taste reminiscent of capers and can be used in the same way as capers, but since purslane spoils quickly, it should be processed quickly. It can be kept in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for a maximum of five days if the leaves are rolled into a damp kitchen towel. It can only be preserved to a limited extent, as the leaves in the freezer become very muddy.
There are no real varieties of purslane, but there are different cultivars that can be distinguished by the colour of their leaves. The varieties with strong green leaves have a slightly coarser consistency but a better taste. The yellowish-green forms form softer, less aromatic leaves.
Purslane as a medicinal plant
Portulac tea is recommended in medicine for bladder and kidney problems. Because it contains a lot of provitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, it has a blood-cleansing and anti-inflammatory effect. The polyunsaturated fatty acids protect the vessels and also stimulate serotonin production in the brain, which is why purslane is also considered a natural antidepressant.
Diseases and pests
The robust wild vegetable is – also because of its short cultivation period – very insensitive to diseases and pests.
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