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5.24.2011

Dandelions

I love dandelions.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  To me they are not a weed- they are one of the first brilliant blooms of color in spring.  Yeah, they crowd out grass, blah blah blah.  But grass doesn't have a purpose (I know it really does... it looks pretty and it's soft to walk on and cows eat it, but I'm kind of bitter towards grass after spending a good portion of the last month pulling it out of my garden and all my flower beds).  Dandelions have a purpose (more on that later).  Dandelions make me happy.  But a tiny part of me does cringe a little when they are blooming in force in my yard.  I don't know if it's fear of them invading my garden or remnants of my middle-class lawn-loving upbringing, but especially when they go all white and fuzzy I begin to feel bangs of anxiety.

But I don't know any organic ways to regulate the population of dandelions in my yard short of digging up every. single. plant.  I don't want to obliterate them, nor do I want to spray any nasty chemicals on the yard that my kids play in, my chickens graze on, and that I harvest, well, mostly dandelions from.  So how do I keep them from taking over?  Well, I'm still working on that.  But the following applications at least reduce the number of blossoms that go to seed.

...by the way, did you know if you pluck or cut a dandelion while it's yellow, it STILL goes to seed?  Yeah, neither did I until Izzy left a pile on the porch for a few days.

  • Dandelion leaf tea: Pick dandelion leafs, dry in a warm oven or food dehydrator until dry and brittle.  Use as you would any herbal tea.  Great spring tonic.
  • Dandelion wine: I haven't done this one yet because of the sheer volume of dandelions it requires and the recent limits on my time, but eventually I plan to.  Perhaps when my picking partner returns from Kansas...  I plan to use the recipe from Wild Fermentation, but here are a staggering 30+ recipes for dandelion wine.
  • Dandelion Jelly:  We are in the process of picking enough blooms for this.  The thing is, you can't have ANY green.  Not even the little bit of green around the blossom.  But pulling the yellow out was much easier than I thought, and you can do little bits at a time and freeze the blossoms until you have enough.  Here is the recipe I plan to use.
  • Dandelion root decoction:  This is a more hardcore preparation that utilizes the medicinal properties of the dandelion root.  But, since you have to dig up the entire root, you are at least eliminating the plant and reducing the population.  As with the tea, this decoction is a tonic often used to improve liver function in the spring.  If you want to get into making herbal decoctions, I highly suggest checking out "Making Plant Medicine" by Richo Cech.  But in a nutshell you clean the roots, dice them, process them in a food processor, and add a little water a little clear liquor.  This mixture is steeped for two weeks (and shaken every day or so), then strained.
I told you- lots of uses.  And I didn't even mention that the leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in salads or the leaves can be steamed like spinach.

2 comments:

Brianna said...

they must be tasty, my pup eats lots of them!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Thank you for this post! I love them too, though I honestly can't stand the tea, too bitter for me. And my children live for them.

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