Saturday, 28 December 2013

Salad Leaves in a Perennial Polyculture

I've been growing a number of plants alongside my runner beans this year as the beginnings of my intended perennial vegetable garden.

The star attraction was a perennial salad plant - siberian purslane. The theory is that this is easily grown from seed, enjoys a shady spot with any type of soil and tastes nice and mild, so can make up a bulk salad ingredient. Year round. It is also said to make good ground cover and so should be very useful as a weed suppressant. I was understandably very excited to give this one a go. I ordered my seeds and once they arrived, eagerly skipped off down the garden to gently scatter them in their spot - two neat rows of seed sown between my rows of runner beans.  And then I waited and waited. And waited a bit more.

Eventually a few plants poked their little heads up. Well I'm happy if I get just a few - they're said to self seed readily, so they should spread around in time. I carefully nurtured these little plants, regularly clearing away any weeds, giving them a grass clipping mulch from time to time.

I waited until summer, when they were a good size before trying my first taste. What a wonder to have my first perennial, year round bulk salad plant! I was starting to feel rather chuffed with myself. Perhaps this plant alone marked the point where I'd made it as a permaculture gardener. If my garden grows nothing else, from now on, I can always have salad. Polyculture, weed supressing salad. Multifunctional salad no less.

It tasted vile.


The marigolds looked great though in amongst this disappointing polyculture. They'd self seeded in along with some lovely chamomile plants and some red orache. I got salad leaves from that at least, even if its season isn't all that long. And wild orache also turned up. So annual plants made a good appearance and cheered up the whole bed rather nicely.

 And then I read that siberian purslane is a good salad plant all year round, except in summer, when it tastes rather bitter. Aha! Thank goodness for that! I must get back out there and try it again actually. I've not had the guts to do it again since that fateful day. So perhaps this really is the beginnings of my first perennial polyculture, with a few edible annuals thrown in for good measure.


  1. Did it end up tasting OK, when you tried it next?

  2. purslane just takes over though. I would eat it if there was nothing else, but no other reason



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