Dandelions are a common weed that many try to get rid of in their lawns without realising how valuable they are. Learn more about growing and using dandelions, and how to make use of the amazing medicinal benefits these plants have to offer.
Dandelion greens are edible and make a great addition to salads or for feeding pet rabbits. The roots of dandelions make a strong tea that is great for detoxing and can be used as a coffee substitute. Growing dandelions at home is a great way to make use of this flower and know for certain that they have not been sprayed with chemicals unlike harvesting in the wild.
Growing dandelions in your yard and even your garden can be beneficial. Dandelions have a deep taproot that helps to pull nutrients up to the surface of your soil. This makes them a great asset to your lawn and even as a companion plant in your garden for plants with shallow roots like tomatoes.
You can plant dandelion seeds in the ground or your garden beds as the grass begins to turn green and let them bloom long before it is safe for your vegetable garden to grow, if you live in a cooler climate you can use them as an early-season cover crop to help improve your soil and get a harvest of nutrition-packed leafy greens.
Dandelions also act as a fertiliser for your lawn and are a wonderful addition to add to garden beds that will be used for your crops after the dandelions season has come to an end. Harvesting dandelion roots for use in your kitchen and home is a great way to clear them out of your garden beds; then you can enjoy the benefits of improved soil nutrition and aeration for your hard work.
To grow dandelions from seed, plant the seeds in spring and summer. They prefer to be placed in a spot with full sun, though they will grow in areas with less light. They are not particular about the soil mixture that they are planted in, though for better growth, a spot that is rich in nitrogen is recommended. These plants like consistent moisture, so water regularly to keep the soil moist. Be careful not to overwater, as they don’t like it when the soil is sopping wet.
When growing these perennial plants from seed, sow the seeds directly into the ground, sowing just below the surface of the soil, about 30 cm apart. Once they have sprouted, you can thin them out if necessary. Dandelions do readily reseed, though they may end up in places that you may not really want them. If this is the case, clear them from your garden before they go to seed.
The leaves of dandelions can be slightly bitter, with the younger, tender leaves being the least bitter and the most flavourful. The leaves can be picked when needed throughout the growing season.
When harvesting the blooms, choose the young, bright yellow flowers, picking them mid-morning. Make sure to remove all the stem before using fresh. A great way to stop the flowers from closing after you have harvested them is to place them in a bowl of cold water, removing them when ready to eat or serve.
The roots of this plant can be harvested when needed. Preparing the roots is as easy as chopping the dried roots into pieces and roasting at 150˚C for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, grind the roasted root pieces.
Uses for dandelions
Dandelions are much more useful than many people realise. They can be a great source of nutrition for the whole family, containing calcium, iron and potassium. Dandelion greens can be used fresh in salads or cooked down like other greens for a nutrient-dense addition to your spring meals. Remember, dandelion leaves are best eaten when tender and young like baby spinach.
The buds before they flower are great additions to omelettes while dandelion blooms can be baked into cakes and bread to add color. The blooms are also a popular addition in making fresh wine.
Dandelions make a lovely tea as well. Tea made from dandelion roots is a powerful antioxidant and great for detoxing the whole body. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of ground roasted root to a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. It has been said that dandelion root has been used to help enable the passing of kidney stones.
Make a homemade jelly by collecting dandelions and saving the petals to simmer in water for any simple jelly recipe you have.
Food for pets: Rabbits, guinea pigs, and even hamsters love dandelion greens for snacking. These are a great addition to your pet’s meals and a fun treat.
This lovely plant has been used for generations to help with health and ailments such as a supplement to help with detoxing and fighting off illness including anaemia, stomach ailments, treat infections, liver and kidney ailments and healing minor injuries like sprains. To take advantage of these benefits, use fresh young dandelion leaves in your meals.
Homemade products: Dandelions have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Dried petals are often infused into oils and made into salves. They make a great colourful addition to bath bombs, lotion bars and homemade soaps along with other dried herbs.
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website.