Growing up in the shadow of my Italian grandparents’ farm, I have fond memories of my relatives wandering the fields in spring harvesting dandelion greens.
I love to sautee them with olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes for a tasty, slightly bitter dish. Unfortunately, most people don't share my love for this maligned flower.
Dandelions have a rich history as a medical and edible plant stretching back to the eleventh century. The name derives from the French dent de lion, or tooth of the lion, referring to the serrated leaves.
It was the pilgrims who brought dandelions to North America, but for good reason.
Dandelions are rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C.
A serving of dandelion greens has as much calcium as half a cup of milk.
You can also make wine from the flowers, and roast the roots as a coffee substitute.
So if I've convinced you to see dandelions in a new light, try growing some. Cultivated varieties such as Catalogna Special are better than wild ones because they feature tall, easy-to-harvest leaves with less bitter flavor.
Sow dandelion seeds as you would other greens after the last frost. To remove some of the bitterness, harvest when leaves are young, grow them in part shade and eat them cooked instead of raw.
If you just want to just rid your lawn of dandelions, here are some organic controls. Dig dandelions removing as much of the taproot as possible.
Keep your lawn thick and lush so those white fluffy seeds can't get established.
Spread corn gluten herbicide once those fluffy heads form to kill sprouting seeds.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about peonies. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.