Dandelions: If you can’t beat them, eat them

Dandelions are broadleaf perennials that can grow in any soil and are most numerous in full sunlight. In the early spring, new sprouts will emerge from the taproot, which can be 2 to 3 feet deep in the soil. They grow yellow flowers that mature and turn into white fluffy seedheads.

I usually write lengthy descriptions about plants, like flower parts and leaf types, cross-pollination or plant evolution.  But not this time.  This time, I’m writing about people who either hate or love this simple weed, the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

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So I would guess that there are two types of people, those that hate dandelions and those that love them…  Maybe some of us change, as we get older.  From children who play with dandelion flowers and make wishes with their irresistibly entertaining seedy puffballs to serious lawncare adults hellbent on eradication.

So if you are part of the latter, what is the best method to control this botanical nightmare? I remember my father and how he controlled dandelions.  The best way to get rid of dandelions was to remove them by hand. The key is to get as much as possible, of the long taproot, since the plant can regenerate from its roots. He would use a narrow tool, such as a flat screwdriver.  Stab, cut, drop in the bucket. Repeat until tired.  Be prepared, this is going to take time, it’s like a management position that requires constant due diligence.

If you decide on this type of dandelion control the next step is promoting lawn health.  Don’t let bare spots remain uncovered for long, or you’re just inviting the invasion of opportunistic weeds. In the fall, fill in those bare spots by overseeding with perennial grass.  You can also top dress your lawn in the fall with compost to help improve the overall nutrient level.  Lastly, mow your lawn on a high setting.   Remember, a thick lawn is the best method for preventing dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in the lawn.

So if you can’t beat them, eat them.  Part of that bucket my father filled ended up on the kitchen table. He would take the leaves and wash them clean with water from a garden hose.  Thirty minutes later, they were on the dinner table as a salad prepared by my mother.  Dandelion greens taste like other salad greens like chicory or escarole. As a child, I never liked the taste.

Dandelions are high in vitamins A and C, and iron. The best time to harvest is early spring before the flowers appear because the leaves are tenderest and least bitter.  Just avoid harvesting near roads, since road salt, metals or other toxins may be present. Do not harvest where there is high traffic of animals such as deer.  Additionally, you obviously shouldn’t harvest from a lawn where herbicides have been applied.

Bon Appetite

 

Five Online Plant Companies Worth Checking Out

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One of the hardest decisions a gardener can make is where to buy their seeds, plants and gardening supplies. As you start looking for those annuals, perfect perennials, and choice veggies to fill your yard, consider shopping online. Here at The Plant King, we have compiled a list of our favorite garden seed catalogs and suppliers. These companies have perfected the art of shipping living, growing things, so they arrive perfectly healthy and are ready to thrive. Here is some information about our favorite online companies – where you can feel confident placing your order. Log onto their websites and request their paper catalogs today to have seeds in time for spring planting! Or order online directly and let the plants come to you.

These websites are packed with instructions and information from planting zones to plant care. And remember, online shopping may be the solution if you can’t find unique or special varieties at your local garden centers. Our biggest tip is to order early, especially if you are after something specific because once these companies sell out for the season, that’s all there is. And now on to our list of the best 2019 online garden seed catalogs!

Park Seed
Perhaps one of the most popular garden seed catalogs is Park Seed. They offer a great selection of both flower and vegetable seeds. Prices are affordable and the seed is always fresh. Shipping is fast, usually just a couple of days. Highly recommended. Additionally, they also offer some live plants.

Burpee Seeds
Nothing signals spring like the arrival of the annual Burpee Catalog in the mailbox. Burpee has always had one of the most colorful catalogs, and a wide selection of seeds. They are especially good at their vegetable selections, as many veggie gardeners already know. They continue to add new varieties each year. Their website excels at garden advice and how-to videos and articles about seed starting.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
They have an extensive seed catalog, with lots of online tips and resources as well. Johnny Selected Seeds has a longstanding reputation as a quality Non-GMO company and it’s 100% employee-owned.

EdenBrothers
An online company that offers one of the largest seed and flower bulb assortments available. Their offerings for the home gardener include hundreds of heirloom varieties, rare and hard to find flower, vegetable, and herb seeds. They also have a large selection of flower bulbs for both spring and fall planting. A very helpful website that allows users to make selections according to flower color, plant height, plant life cycle, blooming and light requirements.

Burgess Seed
A company with over 106 years of experience. It is one of the largest producers and distributors of home gardening products and offers a wide range of quality gardening plants, trees, seeds, bulbs, and supplies at good prices. Check out their one-cent sales! This useful website has many helpful categories to aid buyers with their selections.

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