Americans have an obsession with dandelions. This much maligned weed, actually was brought to North American for its culinary and medicinal uses. It's high in vitamins and was considered a delicacy during Victorian times.
We depend on your support. Donate to Connecticut Public today.
So, what happened? Our obsession with lush, green lawns and the heavy doses of advertising touting dandelions as the enemy resulted in tons of herbicides spread on American lawns to kill this beneficial flower.
So, let's step back and look at dandelions for the treasure that they are. In the recent edition of Connecticut Gardener magazine, Will Rowlans sings the praises of dandelions. The taproots break up compacted soil. The yellow flowers are an important early pollen source for bees and butterflies. They can also be made into wine. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and taproots can be boiled to make a coffee substitute. Plus, they're pretty and fun. Who hasn't made a dandelion flower chain in early summer or blown the white seed heads into the air?
Let's leave some dandelions in our yards for all these reasons. If you really need to remove them start by growing a thick, lush lawn that will prevent the seeds from taking hold. Spread corn gluten organic herbicide when the fluffy seed heads form to kill emerging seedlings. In fall, keep a layer of maple or oak leaves on the lawn to inhibit dandelion growth.
If you can't get enough of the tasty, slightly bitter dandelion leaves, grow cultivated Italian varieties such as 'Clio' and the red-stemmed 'Italiko Red'. Sow seeds now as you would lettuce and enjoy the greens all summer.