Perhaps no “weed” is more maligned (or useful) than the dandelion.
While some people take pride in spreading toxic chemicals to create a uniformly green lawn, the more natural-minded gardener chooses a different path.
There is nothing more beautiful than a green lawn with yellow polka dots.
Of course, before those polka dots come into full bloom, it’s picking season.
Oh sure, you can head into the grocery story and buy dandelions in the salad section for $3.99 a pound, or even find them by the frozen bag. Why bother?
It’s too early in spring here in Western New York’s Zone 5 to get into much serious prep work.
The plants are sprouted on the windowsill, not because of a desire for an early crop but because when you are addicted to gardening, it’s important to feed you habit by watching things grow.
Meanwhile, out in the yard, the first crop of dandelion greens is ready for harvest. Sautee them with some fresh-picked garlic greens and a little olive oil. Sprinkle with cheese. How can we poison such a delicious lunch?
In another month or so, they will be bursting with blooms. Bloom time brings a bitterness out in the foliage, but cry no more. Pick the blossoms and, with some steeping and an added dose of sugar and a bit of yeast you are on your way to a delightful aperitif with a floral bouquet delicious on the tongue.
Dandelion blooms are also a delightful and colorful addition to salads and can be battered and fried into fritters.
Even dandelion roots are edible, scrubbed clean and roasted.
It’s interesting when we think about how resilient and widespread the plant has become to realize it was imported from Europe in an effort to feed honeybees.
Another nice thing is that the dandelion doesn’t have any toxic look-a-likes. The earliest of spring flowers, coltsfoot, is an herb introduced from Europe as well. It blooms before showing foliage.
About the Author
Joe Genco is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, home of the Seeds of the Month Club.