Growing Things Outdoors: Purslane’s a weed some embrace | Saltwire – SaltWire Network

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Q

My mom wanted to get in touch with you concerning the portulaca growing in her garden. She’s been trying to get rid of it for a few years now. She assumes the seed probably blew in from somewhere since she didn’t plant it. She’s 82 year’s old and has been living in the same house for 49 years. We’ve always had a large garden.

She would like to know how to get rid of portulaca. It appears to be a nuisance weed that is stubborn and refuses to die out. My mom goes out there and pulls each weed out manually. Can you please share some insight into this? Is there a good spray that she can use to fix the problem?

A

Purslane, or portulaca oleracea is a love-it or hate-it type of weed. To some people, it’s something to be grown and enjoyed. It’s an edible that, according to

healthline.com

is highly nutritious and contains many nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids.

To others, it’s an invasive  scourge, and once established can be a terror to get rid of. As many of you know I avoid chemical controls if possible but this is one of those problem weeds that calls for drastic measures.

Pulling by hand is a fruitless exercise because you can actually make the problem worse. Hand pulling means breaking up the roots and even the tiniest piece left behind will create an entirely new plant. The best way to treat this problem is by using a herbicide containing 2-4D.

In 2016, the Government of Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency reevaluated the use of 2-4 D and found, “products containing 2-4 D do not present unacceptable risks to human health and the environment when used according to the revised conditions of use.”

Read more

on the uses of 2-4D and recommendations from the PMRA.

Best watering practices

With the extreme heat this summer, let’s talk about watering and water conservation. Here are some tips on how to conserve water while keeping your plants happy.

A healthy, nutrient-laden soil is always the first start against water waste. Soil with good organic matter such as compost will retain water much more readily than a weak and tired soil will.

Use mulch. I cannot stress enough what a difference a layer of mulch applied around the base of a plant can do to help conserve water. Things like lawn clippings around the bottom of a tomato plant can make a huge difference.

Water when your plants need it. The old ‘stick your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle’ test is a tried and true. If it feels dry water; if not, don’t.

Use the hydrozone technique. This means planting species with similar water needs together. Deep rooted vegetables like tomatoes and asparagus should go together and will benefit from deep, but less frequent watering. Things like strawberries and bush beans that have shallow roots can go together for more frequent watering.

Water early in the morning before the heat of the day. Plants will appreciate having access to the water when they need it the most later in the hottest part of the day.

Control and pull weeds that are competing for water with desirable plants. The less competition for the precious water the better.

Instead of using a hose consider using a watering can to deliver water to just the areas you want to water. This might be a little more work but is worth it in the long run.

Create mini-reservoirs of soil around the base of each plant to keep the water from running off. I use this technique every single time I plant a vegetable, shrub or even a tree. I want to trap that water right in the spot it needs to go.

Every week, Growing Things Outdoors runs online and in an

epaper format

.

Learn more by

emailing me

your questions, reading

past columns

or my book

Just Ask Jerry

. You can also follow me on Twitter

@justaskjerry01

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