Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A.A. Milne.
I know that many gardeners will think me odd to talk about growing dandelions, but once you get to view this plant as something other than a weed, you’ll be happy to have this tenacious perennial in your garden.
Here are 5 good reasons to let them grow in your lawn and gardens.
- Dandelions are a green and growing first aid kit. Historically, dandelions were prescribed for every ailment from warts to the plague. Today, herbalists use dandelion tonics to aid the liver in removing toxins from the bloodstream. The leaves act as a gentle diuretic that provides nutrients and helps the digestive system function at peak efficiency.
- Dandelions are more nutritious than many of the other vegetables in your garden. The greens are high in fibre, and are a powerhouse of iron, calcium, and other trace elements. With more vitamin A than spinach, and more vitamin C than tomatoes, they are a healthy addition to your diet. Pick the greens while they’re still young and tender (before the plant flowers) to add to a spring salad. Older leaves can be lightly steamed or stir fried like spinach.
- Dandelions are good for your lawn and vegetable beds. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and help reduce erosion. The deep taproot pulls nutrients such as calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants. When you do need to pull them up, be sure to add them to your compost pile, or add them to compost tea, where the mineral rich leaves will enrichen the compost.
- Dandelions are a healthy substitute for tea and coffee. The roots can be dried and ground to make a no-caffeine coffee substitute, while the leaves make a cup of nutritious tea. The petals can be used to make dandelion wine or dandelion marmalade.
- Dandelions are great for pollinators. The dandelion’s peak flowering time is from late March to May, when many bees and other pollinators emerge from hibernation. Each flower in fact consists of up to 100 florets, each one packed with nectar and pollen. This early, easily available source of food is a lifesaver for pollinators in spring. Bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees all visit dandelions for food, along with hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies.
OK, I know that sounds crazy but here’s what Richter’s Herb & Seed Catalogue has to say about the variety:
This strain of the lowly dandelion boasts tender fleshy leaves, topping all other fruits and vegetables for iron content. Enjoy in a spring salad, or cooked like spinach.
Perhaps I am crazy, but next spring I’ll be comparing the French Dandelion vs. the Lawn Dandelion and I’ll let you know how they each fare.