Dandelions: Friend or Foe?
Dandelions seem to be the bane of virtually everyone with a yard’s existence. Although I support and practice the idea of turning unused lawn space into productive areas, I have no shame in admitting that like most Americans, the idea of a neat, clean, weed-free yard appeals to me. Naturally, the bright yellow and prolific dandelion stands out in the spring (and parts of the fall) and often times takes over yards, sending many people out with herbicides to attempt to solve the problem, often with only limited success.
I decided that this year I was going to make the best out of my annual influx of dandelions by eating them. So far I’ve been plucking their leaves out of the garden just about every day and throwing them into salads. They’re very bitter, but mixed in with other lettuces everything is just fine. I’ve been throwing some of the flower heads into stir fries as well. I haven’t gotten to the roots yet, but I hear they can be thrown into stir fries as well. I’m thinking about dehydrating some roots and keeping them around for future use.
Dandelions have some great health benefits, notably in the way of detoxification. In fact, many people purchase dandelion extract (sometimes mixed with things like milk thistle) for this purpose. Dandelions are a great diuretic, meaning that they help the body remove waste products from the liver and kidneys. Dandelions are also said to help with acne and help prevent gallstones. They contain vitamins A, B, C and D as well as potassium and some calcium.
It won’t hurt you to try to work a few dandelions this spring. You probably won’t have to go much farther than a step or two outside your door to gather them.
Oh, if you really want to get rid of them, spray them with vinegar. It’s safer and cheaper than conventional herbicides. Just be careful that you don’t over-spray them and I wouldn’t do it when the temperature is above 85F or so.