I let purslane grow in my community garden.  I had a sneaking suspicion that my love for the plant would not be shared by the other gardeners.  I am one of the younger gardeners. I also know I tend to be a bit more experimental with things than most people, both for good and for bad.

I did my research on purslane.  I thought it was a nitrogen fixer, but turns out that's not it's primary benefit.  It has very shallow roots, which are easier to pull if I want it pulled, and it doesn't suck a lot of nutrients out of the soil.  It's actually edible and highly nutritious.  But for me?  Purslane's ability to be a ground cover and choke out all other emerging weeds is a huge benefit.  Most of those other weeds actually do steal nutrients from my plants. And while I don't hate weeding (it's a calming activity), it's not my favorite thing to do.  It's nice to have something on the ground that chokes out weeds and won't freak me out when I step all over it.

My garden is gorgeous.  The only "weed" is the purslane and it's only in the garden, not even close to the edges.  I have the required row of bright annuals.  There are no weeds on the shared paths.  All my plants are very healthy and prettily mulched. All the rules have been followed.

Today, to my delight, I finally met my neighbor gardener.  I was friendly, she was not so much, a bit crotchety and cold.  I was betting it was the purslane so I on purpose started some minor shit.  Nothing major, I simply made a loud comment about the small amount of grass in my garden, how thrilled I was that purslane got most of it but that there were bits here and there.  Very positive, light tone.  

She bit, which I knew she would. I speak bitch fluently and she was easier to read than 'Goodnight Moon'.  She comes over to my garden and says "do you know what I don't like?" as she tapped her foot over one of my purslane plants.   "This weed" she said.  Then she looked at me, challengingly, disapprovingly. I chuckled and told her purslane wasn't a weed, that it's edible and good for the soil.  She turned away saying "well it's a weed in MY book".

Well, your book is stupid, I thought to myself.  I replied "well, I'll be sure to tend the edges and make sure it stays in my garden".  Which I had already done.  I was actually finishing up pulling all the purslane close to the edge and for an extra foot or so.  She actually had a few weeds in her garden.  Real weeds. But nothing bad.  Her garden was very tidy.  Perfectly proper straight rows.  The required midwestern tradition of marigolds.  Personally, I think marigolds don't live up to their beneficial qualities plus they are quite boring. But whatever, I'm not going to challenge any other gardener who wants to fill their space with them.

I spent the rest of our idyllic garden time together asking questions and peppering comments about my other gardens to communicate that she 1.) wasn't dealing with a novice and 2.)  knew that I won't back down from a challenge by a gardener who thinks she knows better.   I also made sure to communicate what I think of people who spend too much time worrying about other humans who occupy the same space they do, especially if they do so instead of offering to help someone who may need a helping hand with weeding or otherwise.  

At the end of our garden time, we seemed to have made an uneasy peace through garden talk.  She gave me her tip for growing her legit healthy onions and I gave her mine for her tardy carrots (keep soil moist til germination).  She and her companion shared some info about how to reach out to offer help to other gardeners (frowned upon apparently) and the risk of theft and bunnies (apparently very low).  She wished me happy gardening and I wished her the same. Genuinely.  Calm people who enjoy nature are less likely to engage in judgemental fuckery

We'll see what happens.  If I get a nasty email about my purslane, I'll know where we stand.  And my purslane will stay anyway.  The very worst they can do is refuse to let me buy a plot next year.  Besides, my melons and squash are beginning to spread which means that in a few weeks, my garden will be an Eden of vines.  I'll be able to hide a dead body in there if I wanted.