gardening · organic living · recipes

My Favorite Flower is a Dandelion

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As a child, I spent many sunny afternoons playing with dandelions. I made wishes before blowing their puffy white seeds and watching them float away on the breeze. I tied the stems together in knots to make bracelets, necklaces and headbands. At my grandparents’ house, I picked them by the bushel to decorate my tree house or to feed to their rabbits.

As an adult, I I happily display these little gifts of nature (very temporarily) when my daughter picks them for me and I smile when I see them in people’s lawns. Although I’ve learned what a pain they can be in the garden, I never spray them with weed killer. In fact (when I had a lawn) I don’t even dig them out of the lawn. Dandelions are not just a weed. They are a beautiful, useful, and versatile flower. Here’s How:

 Dandelions Weren’t Always Considered Weeds:

Once upon a time, dandelions were a beloved flower and considered a normal part of a healthy lawn. Then we invented chemical herbicides. Because chemical weed killers also kill dandelions and other wildflowers that you may find in an untreated lawn, the producers of weed killers spent a lot of time marketing a new conept of a healthy lawn, that is, one with nothing but plain green grass.

They are Food for Bees:

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Dandelions bloom earlier than most traditional flowers, making them an important early food source for bees. This is why you should never spray them with weed killer. You are destroying and poisoning the food source of the creature who are essential for pollination.

You Can Eat Them Too!

I learned at 4H camp as kid that the entire dandelion plant is edible (an important fact for you survivalists to know.) Dandelion greens are full of nutrients and are often eaten in salads but they can also be stir fried, added to smoothies and bread recipes and much more. Also….

Dandelion Wine!

That’s right. You can make homemade wine with dandelions. Here is a recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com:

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart yellow dandelion blossoms, rinsed
  • 8 cups sugar
  • 1 gallon boiling water
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1 orange and 1 lemon, both sliced

Process:

  1. Place dandelion blossoms in the boiling water, and allow to stand for 4 minutes. Remove and discard the blossoms, and let the water cool to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).
  2. Stir in the yeast, sugar, orange slices, and lemon slice; pour into a plastic fermentor, and attach a fermentation lock. Let the wine ferment in a cool area until the bubbles stop, 10 to 14 days. Siphon the wine off of the lees, and strain through cheesecloth before bottling in quart-sized, sterilized canning jars with lids and rings. Age the wine at least a week for best flavor.

Next time you see a dandelion, don’t think invasive weed that must be nuked. Instead think gift of nature, pretty flower, food source, WINE! Whatever you do, enjoy, don’t destroy!

 

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