Seed Saving for the Portulacaceae Family

We grow two cultivars from this family: Miner’s Lettuce and Purslane.

Pollination: Miner’s lettuce is self pollinating and is not pollinated by insects; it does not cross with purslane. Purslane is also self pollinating.

Isolation Distances: Isolation distances are not required.

Minimum Numbers: Seed from 16-32 plants to maintain genetic diversity.

When To Plant: Purslane is a heat loving plant, so plant in October or November to collect the best seeds. Miner’s lettuce is a cold loving plant, so plant for seed either in Autumn (April in the North, maybe March in colder areas) or in early Spring.

Rogueing/Selection: Watch for variation and take out those that are weak or choose an especially good one for seed.

Support/Protection: Neither need any support as they are both ground hugging plants.

Harvest: Both of these plants drop their seed quickly, and on top of that the Miner’s Lettuce seed is very hard to see. I find it best to visit them both twice a week when they are flowering, to check what the seed heads look like, and harvest all heads that look as though the seed is darkening in colour onto a cloth. I usually harvest whole plants in the case of Miner’s lettuce because they have such a fragile connection to their roots that picking parts of the plant often breaks the connection.

Processing: The seed easily falls out of the seed heads onto the cloth as it dries in the greenhouse.

Seed Life Expectancy: Miner’s lettuce will remain viable for 5 years under dry, dark, cool conditions, purslane 7 years.