Taraxacum officinale, or as we know them, the common dandelion. Some consider them a weed, while others, a wildflower...either way, I’m still on the fence.
I have to say, I love to see their bright sunny blooms after a long winter. You know spring is here when you see that pop of yellow on the new spring grass. They remind me of my childhood. I was living in Nashville and behind our home was a big, steep hill. All the kids in the neighborhood would congregate there. We'd spend hours rolling down that dandelion covered hill. We'd pick the dandelions to make chains and crowns for our heads. Best of all...we'd blow the seeds in the wind. I can still remember the distinct scent of dandelions on my grass stained clothes.
Putting childish amusements aside, dandelions do have several redeeming values. Dandelions provide bees with their first food source in the spring. The plant is edible and many people eat the tender young dandelion greens in salads. The leaves can also be sauteed, steamed braised and boiled. Their nutritional value is amazing. The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine, jelly and believe it or not, root beer. Dandelions are used in teas to detox and have great medicinal value, in fact the root is a registered drug in Canada.
What’s wrong with a few dandelions, you say? Nothing, if there were just a few but dandelions can take over a lawn in no time at all. Dandelion seeds can travel over 5 miles and once they take root, they will rob your lawn of the water and nutrients it needs. This is why dandelions are viewed as pesky, invasive weed.
So, how does one fight this charming little flower? There are pre-emergents and broadleaf herbicides but if you want to stay organic, those are out. Here are a few organic methods to rid your yard of dandelions.
1. Pull them out using a dandelion digger. Make sure the soil is soft and beware, their taproots are long and brittle! If that taproot snaps, the dandelion can and will come back sending two to five new shoots in its place.
2. Vinegar. Be careful not to spray anything other than the dandelion as the vinegar will kill most plants, including grass.
3. Mow … and do it often. The more frequently you mow, the less chance dandelions have to go to seed.
4. Apply boiling water to the dandelions. Sounds crazy but some swear by it.
5. Mulch. Applying 2 to 3 inches of mulch in a flower or vegetable garden helps prevent seeds from germinating.
Well, there are a few ideas. They all seem like a lot of work to me. It might be easier to get a goat…even better, make some dandelion wine. After a few glasses you just might forget all about those pesky dandelions invading your lawn!
Until next time...have fun playing in the dirt!