Some see dandelions as despised weeds, wanting to annihilate them from their yards and flower beds. At my house, we welcome them. We allow them to grow in our yard and keep them around for many reasons. They are food and medicine and make delicious nectar and pollen for our honeybees in early spring.
The name Dandelion in many languages literally means “Tooth of the Lion,” because of their jagged, irregular leaves. They are native to Europe and Asia and were brought over by settlers to provide for their families. The plants are packed with vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. As a garden plant, it tops all others in the amount of iron and vitamin A it contains.
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Genesis 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
How to Plant Dandelions:
Dandelions are perennials and are extremely easy to grow. They are often gathered in the wild or in your yard, but can be grown in your garden as an annual.
You can pick up a fluffy dandelion head and blow or you can plant them in a more organized fashion.
Sow seeds indoors and transplant or sow seeds directly into your garden, barely covering them with soil. Place in rows about 12-16 inches apart. They will grow quickly, if given a good supply of compost and moisture.
*We give perennials spaces of their own, so they don’t take up room in our vegetable garden.
When to Plant Dandelions:
Plant them at the same time you would plant lettuce or spinach. In Ohio, for a spring crop, plant seeds in early spring or for a fall crop, plant in July or August. If allowed to develop and store food all spring, they will come back even stronger the following year.
Dandelion as a Companion Plant:
Dandelions act as a nutrient pump in the garden. They actually bring up nutrients, especially calcium, from lower levels of the soil to the surface. The soil around a dandelion plant will become very fertile and is usually on the alkaline side for pH.
Earthworms love the dandelion plant. They love the nutrient-rich soil around the plant. Plus, as the plant dies, their old root systems leave a mine shaft for the worms to use to reach new depths of soil they couldn’t reach before.
Dandelions give off ethylene gas, which may cause neighboring plants’ fruits to ripen quicker and may cause a plant to stop growing prematurely.
How to Serve and Eat Dandelions:
*Use only dandelions that have not been sprayed with chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.
The leaves can be used in salads, if you like bitter greens (the earlier you harvest them, the less bitter they are). They can also be used to make pesto or cooked like spinach. Leaves can be dried and used to make “Dandelion Leaf Tea.” Collect the green leaves in early spring, before the flowers appear for best flavor and nutritional value.
The flowers can be made into tea, wine, and jelly. They can also be used in soups, steamed, or sautéed with other vegetables.
The taproot runs deep and is quite brittle. When pulled, a new plant will grow back in its place. The roots can be roasted to make “Dandelion Root Coffee.”
Dandelion Medicinal Uses:
Dandelions are said to strengthen your body and is touted as a safe herbal remedy. The roots and leaves act as a gentle diuretic and a laxative. They promote the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder. It is good for your liver, gall bladder, bladder, spleen, pancreas, stomach, and intestines.
The white milky substance that comes from dandelion stems is used to treat many skin ailments, including; warts, moles, sores, acne, calluses, blisters, burns, boils, eczema, and bee stings.
See Web MD’s article on dandelions and check out this great article by University of Maryland Medical Center on Dandelions.
Disclosure: This information is not intended to be a replacement for advice from a licensed medical professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.