Common purslane, or Portulaca oleracea, is much maligned as a troublesome, invasive weed by those who take great pride in the appearance of perfectly manicured lawns. The naysayers even go so far as to disdainfully refer to it by some pretty disparaging terms such as pigweed, little hogweed and fatweed. In direct contrast are the gardeners who value the hardy little plant for its no-care groundcover properties. Tree-huggers take things a step further by relishing purslane as a delicious, mild, sweet-sour salad ingredient. Beginning gardeners quickly learn that even the greenest novice with the brownest thumbs can successfully grow this tasty, nutritious herb.
Choose a sunny garden spot for growing purslane in the spring after all danger of frost has passed for your area. Cultivate the area to about an inch or so deep. This plant prefers a warm, sandy environment and tolerates a pH range from 5.5 to 7.0. Unlike most edibles, purlane thrives in poor soil conditions, so amendments aren't necessary or desirable.
Plant seeds 4 to 6 inches apart singly or in shallow trenches. Cover them with about 1/4 inch of soil.
Water the planting area just enough to evenly moisten the soil surface. Don't allow the seeds to dry out. Your purslane will be ready for harvest in about four to six weeks.
Keep the planting area weeded, and moisten the soil surface when it begins to dry out slightly. Once the purslane plants are about an inch tall, they'll fend for themselves nicely with no further assistance from you.
Harvest succulent stems and leaves from your purslane as desired once they're about 2 or 3 inches tall. You can take as much as half of the plant at any one time throughout the season.
Pinch flowers from purslane plants during the summer and fall as soon as you notice them to keep these prolific plants from reseeding themselves. Otherwise, you'll be overrun with them next year.
Pull purslane plants up at the end of the season unless you want them to multiply and return in the spring. Bag them securely in plastic and dispose of them. Do not add the material to your compost heap.