Ode to the Dandelion
Happy Spring, Kindred Spirits! I hope you’re feeling a little pep in your step with warmer, longer, and sunnier days in our future. I for one am looking forward to working out in the garden more and planting out my flower and herb seedlings. And speaking of flowers and herbs, let’s talk about the unappreciated Dandelion!
There’s a lot to love about this little ray of sunshine, let’s dive in:
Dandelions are some of the first food available for our pollinating friends. Of course we know that this time of year we’re also seeing blooming crocus, hyacinth, and muscari as a source of food for pollinators but dandelions are a welcome food source in areas where pollen and nectar are scarce. And, we know how easily they spread - buffet anyone? 🐝
Ideally, bees and other pollinators should have access to various flowers on which to feed since dandelions aren’t a super high-quality food source. So we definitely recommend planting a variety of native perennials with different bloom times to ensure that pollinators have consistent access to food. Some of our favorites include flowering currants (Gooseberry), flowering plums, Osoberry, and Fringecup.
At the very least, it’s important to avoid spraying dandelions with pesticides and herbicides since this exposes hungry insects to harmful toxins and can even kill bees.
Next on the list of things to love is their edibility, and not just that you can eat them but that you should eat them. Here’s why - For starters, their leaves are full of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K1, potassium, magnesium and beta-carotene. Additionally, dandelion contains bioactive compounds that have shown to be incredibly beneficial for healthy digestion, and a reduction in inflammation, heart disease, cholesterol, blood sugar management and liver health.
Lastly, despite being regarded as an annoying “weed in your otherwise perfect lawn”, dandelions are actually incredibly good for our soil. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and help reduce erosion. That infamous deep taproot pulls nutrients such as calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants!
If you can’t tell, we love this plant and will gladly leave them be in our gardens.
A word of caution: if you’re planning to harvest some dandelions and give them a try in your kitchen, be sure to use gloves (especially those of you who have springtime allergies) and be sure you’re harvesting dandelions that have not been sprayed.
As always, we recommend a chat with your doctor before taking any kind of supplement.
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