Looking at Dandelions From a Different Perspective

Hand-coloured print, plate 1 of Dens Leonis in A Curious Herbal, 1737, by Elizabeth Blackwell

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

He went out to mow the lawn, really just a tan expanse punctuated by dandelions at this point in the summer, came back inside and said “I can’t do it.  There are too many bees out there enjoying the dandelions!” 

Yes!  Most forget that this flower serves a purpose, actually many purposes, but in our culture’s obsession with the “perfect”  lawn, the dandelion has become known as an annoying weed in recent history.

Decades ago (and still today) the dandelion has been prized for its nutritional attributes and is used in cuisine around the world.  The taproot can be used in coffee alternatives, traditional rootbeer, and medical tonics.  I frequently take dandelion capsules for energy when I feel rundown.  The flowers can be used to make dandelion wine.  Add to that they are food for pollinators (the lawn offers no nutrition) they are pretty and you can make a wish on their fluffy seed head!

So skip the lawn chemicals. They are documented carcinogens and their run-off poisons our waterways.

Here are some alternative methods to remove the dandelion flower (if you must!) without the use of harmful chemicals:

  • The Hard Way: by hand, pull up each dandelion from the root. Make sure to get the entire root or the dandelion will come back.
  • The Not So Hard Way: Use the Weed Hound to pull dandelions out of the ground without bending over and tweaking your back.
  • Decapitation: remove the heads from the dandelions while they are still yellow flowers; preventing them from getting to the germination phase (a puffball of a thousand seeds) can impede dandelion proliferation.
  • Corn Gluten: apply corn gluten to your lawn each year and it will suppress dandelion growth as well as the growth of other weeds; You can order your non-toxic, weed killing corn gluten in a 6 lb or 20 lb bag online.
  • Vinegar: use a vinegar that is at least 15-25% acetic, your household vinegar is 5-10% acetic and not strong enough for the job. We recommend a vinegar product called Burnout by St. Gabriel Labs. It has specifically been designed for gardeners that wish to kill weeds the non-toxic way.
sketch by the author

For all things dandelions checkout dandelionisaflower.org. The above list is courtesy their website.

4 comments

    • Thank you. Luckily I live out in a rural area so I don’t have to worry about the neighbor thing. It is a problem in a neighborhood. People need to be re-educated. Maybe a “dandelions matter” sign?

      Liked by 2 people

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