Dandelions: The weed you need

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Benefits of dandelions.The dandelion is usually thought of as a pesky and annoying, yet remarkably resilient, weed. It is the arch nemesis of the landscape artist and gardener alike. The battle rages on from spring to fall with this resilient weed. Instead of attempting to eradicate them, let’s take note of the many benefits of dandelions.

Apart from being a beautiful yellow and fun for kids to blow the seeds once the bloom dies, this misunderstood plant is actually beneficial in practically every way in which a plant could be.

The dandelion:

  • replenishes top soil
  • is entirely edible
  • has a long history of being a medicinal herb

The dandelion in your garden

Dandelions are actually little yellow flags that pop up to tell you there is some type of imbalance to your top soil. Not a weed that is bent on taking over your tomatoes, but, instead, an attempt to help aid in their growth by replenishing the soil of what it is missing.

They are actually the initial step in the improving and restoring of a stripped or ruined area of soil back to its balanced and hospitable growing environment. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth, and help reduce erosion.

The tap root of the dandelion, which is what makes them so hard to kill, reaches deep down into the depths of your dirt to bring vital nutrients to the top soil. The sun, rain, other elements to which the soil is over exposed due to tilling or over growing has removed these nutrients such as calcium. The tap root of the dandelion brings calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants. Wherever you see dandelions peering out over green turf and turning it gold, the earth is being rejuvenated!

Go ahead! Eat a dandelion! Dandelions are actually much more nutritious compared to many of the veggies in your garden. Click To Tweet

Dandelions as a nutritional food

They contain even more Vitamin A than spinach, even more Vitamin C than tomatoes, and are a powerhouse of additional nutrients including Vitamins B and D. They additionally include the vital minerals of iron, calcium and also potassium.

Every component of the dandelion is edible. The yellow flowers make a delicious treat, while the leaves possess even more nutritional content (including Omega 3 as well as 6 fatty-acids) compared to any kind of leaf lettuce you’ll locate in a produce section of your grocer. Dandelion leaves are used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The roots are used as caffeine-free coffee substitutes, and the flowers are used to make wines and jellies.

Nature’s medicine

Dandelions are a green and growing first aid kit. Native Americans boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, it was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.

The main use has been as a diuretic and liver/bloodstream purifier. It stimulates production of bile, which can help break down gall stones. Choline, one of the dandelion’s main constituents, is essential to healthy liver function. The dandelion also contains hydrochloric acid, which helps the digestive system. The milk in the stem can be used as a skin softener, and it has an anti-fungal agent which can help control yeast infections. As a tea, it has anti-inflammatory properties.

The dandelion is your new BFF!

Like many things in life that keep showing up unexpectedly, we may need to take a second look at the benefits found in something so persistent. There are so many uses for the dandelion that was once thought as a weed that I have now taken to cultivating them right alongside my salad greens.  When I see one pop it’s little yellow head in the midst of kale or spinach, it becomes a welcome member of the family. It nourishes my other plants, often graces our table, and is in the sustainable first aid kit.

READ MORE: The wild violet is another “weed” that is edible and medicinal.

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Guest post by Donna Miller, co-owner of Miller’s Grainhouse.

16 thoughts on “Dandelions: The weed you need”

  1. Very happy we have lots of dandelions, it’s good to know we have a vitamin and medicine powerhouse all over the yard.

  2. I did know that dandelions are so healthy. I will look for some recipes and the next spring I will know what to do with dandelions.

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  4. OK, but how to I get dandelions to reproduce in my garden? They appear from time to time but how to I make my garden full o it? How do I cultivate dandelion?

  5. My experience in the middle of the country is that the greens are by far at their best between November and February. By March, the plants start producing flower buds and the leaves get terribly bitter. The buds are really good if you dig them out of the base before they grow a stem. Sautee them in butter with some spring onions.

  6. Dandelions are also a super nutritious food for your chickens, and they love them! Part of my strategy for self reliance is to be able to grow food for the hens ( hey, there wont be feed stores to buy grain if SHTF happens!) Dandelions are widely available, packed with nutrients, and if the leaves are harvested carefully, can be a cut-and-come-again source of food for your chickens.

  7. to get dandelions to reproduce in your garden or other area that is pesticide and herbicide free, simply take the white puffs when they appear (those are the seeds) and plant them. Also, any time you harvest, you will NEVER get all of that deep root so soon new plants will grow back.

  8. I discovered a way to prepare dandelion leaves and roots in a way that completely disguises any bitter taste. I steam potatoes, mash them up. Next I use a food chopper to chop up the dandelion leaves, roots or both. I add the finely chopped dandelions to the mashed potatoes and mix by stirring them together. You can season it with different things. Sometimes I add a little olive oil. I sometimes add a little mustard and some chopped pickles and onion to make it more like potato salad. I eat this dish a lot, it truly is the best way I’ve found to take away any bitter taste dandelion leaves sometimes have regardless of the growth cycle. I could eat this dish seasoned in different ways every day. I have doubled the planting of dandelions in my raised beds since discovering this. I feel great, dandelions are so nutritious and have cancer prevention and killing potential. Siyaram Pandey, a biochemist at the University of Windsor, has been studying the anti-cancer potential of dandelion root extract for almost two years. He has received grants for a totaling $217,000 to study how effective dandelion root extract is in fighting cancer.

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  13. Awesome info about dandelions! I like dandelion cookies (made with dandelion flowers). The flowers are really mild and sweet in flavor. Happy foraging!

      1. The Survival Mom

        I’d like to know, too! I haven’t heard of this before, but I’m always ready for a cookie or five. 🙂

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