Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ain't no time for the summertime blues!

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market. For this week’s episode we are spotlighting a specific garden annual that is native to the United States. If you believe the agricultural chemical companies this annual plant is one of the scourges of the perfectly trimmed lawn. Then again I like to suggest that the perfectly trimmed lawn is the scourge of the landscape as it is thoroughly impossible to maintain because it is unnatural. The very idea of having a neatly mowed lawn around your property comes from the deception of wealth.  Anyone who was rich enough did not need to grow a garden to supplement their food supply and thus could afford to demonstrate their wealth by having a lawn. In practice lawns serve no real purpose other than erosion control, and realistically the amount of fertilizers and chemicals needed to maintain a lawn is prohibitive. Of course, the golf industry isn’t helping at all, as they often get legal allowances that let them skirt drought restrictions and chemical runoff laws. 

All that leads us back to the topic, what is a gardener to do about drought, and what specific crop is commonly found as an annual in your lawn. The answer is a group of plants commonly called the Purselane group, their scientific name is Portulaca and they are a native succulent annual that prefers the hot season and tolerates a wide variety of poor soils. You may have seen Purselane before at the garden center because fancy-flowering versions look like the picture below.

Portulaca sp. – Flat leaf Purselane [Variety unknown]
Purselanes are known for their large ‘cactus’ flowers, but this variety has been bred to be exceptionally flamboyant. The specimen pictured was cultivated from a stem cutting. Fortunately Purselane is easily cultivated from stem cuttings and responds well to rooting hormones. But commonly Portulaca will self-propagate from seed and if sown in the right spot will form regular mats of vibrantly colored flowers. The most common variety of Purselane grown this way is commonly called Moss Rose, and it’s scientific name is Portulaca grandiflora. Moss Rose is edible, but the thin needle like leaves are hard to harvest and so moss rose is primarily used as a annual ornamental.

Portulaca oleracea – Flat leaf Purselane (Red Grunner and Goldgelber)

            The flat-leaf Purselane group is known as Portulaca oleracea. Flat-leaf Portulaca has wide flat leaves that are easy to harvest and make for a great crunchy addition to a salad or if you have enough of them and interesting thing to add to a stir-fry. It is only very recently that the Industry has picked up on these easy to grow plants and begun hybridizing a wide array of bloom colors. Fortunately purselanes are easy to grow, drought resistant, and free of pests so they make for a good garden option. With that said below you will find the Market list for both Wednesday and Saturday.

The Fayetteville City market occurs twice weekly at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum on 325 Franklin Street. The Wednesday market runs from 12:00 to 5:00 pm and the Saturday Market runs from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. If you look below; the new plant list for this week includes some new selections.

4x Purselane, Red Gruner - $4.00
4x Purselane, Goldgelber - $4.00
3x Pepper, Flashpoint Habanero - $3.00
8x Pepper, Novelty - $5.00

3x Tomato, Pink Stuffer - $3.00
3x Tomato, Grand Rapids Cherry- $3.00
3x Tomato, Traveler 76 - $3.00
3x Tomato, Black Krim - $3.00
3x Tomato, Cherokee Purple - $3.00
3x Tomato, Brandywine - $3.00

2x Sweet Basil - $3.00
4x Cinnamon Basil - $3.00
2x Milkweed (A. tuberosum) - $ 4.00
2x Milkweed (A.incarnata) - $ 4.00

2x Small Aloe Vera - $3.00
6x Medium Aloe Vera - $4.00
2x Large Aloe Vera - $6.00

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