Why the Dandelion is the Gardener's Friend
This is the busiest time of the year for dandelions - and here in the UK spring time, they are everywhere.
While many gardeners will look upon them as a nuisance weed, they have a surprising list of benefits to offer to you if you are a gardener.
What will the dandelion do for your garden?
Dandelions appear in the ground for special reasons:
- When the soil is too compact or hard, dandelions will go to work to loosen that soil with their roots.
- When the soil has insufficient calcium, dandelions will replenish calcium levels as their leaves die off.
- When the soil is too acidic, dandelions will create balance.
Dandelions are said to do their work for good reasons but that when that work is done, they will disappear!
It is said that those who try to remove dandelions, by digging up their roots, will find that they will return twice as strong! Perhaps it is best to leave them to do their fixing up!
Apparently, you can tell by dandelion growth at which stage their helping hand is at...
- When the leaves are still flat on the ground, they are still busy.
- When the leaves all reach upwards, their work is nearly done.
More information about dandelions
They are the first bloomers in spring.
During the day if it is hot, they open their flowers. They close again in the evening when the temperature cools down. If it is not hot enough during the day, the flowers will not open at all.
Their flowers are often the first food for insects after hibernation, providing both pollen and nectar.
At the end of spring, flowers can be picked and used in jam, sauces or salads as they are sweet.
This recipe for Dandelion Jam (or Vegan Honey) can be found here
- Collect 200 g of fresh dandelion blossoms.
- Remove as much of the green then you can. It is not bad if you leave it on, it will just influence the taste a bit.
- Cook the yellow blossoms in a liter of water for around five minutes.
- Let it stand for some twenty four hours.
- Then pour the mixture over some cheesecloth to remove the blossoms.
- Add the juice of one lemon and 500 grams jam sugar.
- Stir continuously while letting it boil before simmering for forty minutes.
- Fill clean jars - and enjoy.
In olden days, those flowers used to be known as "honey of the poor".
When dandelion flowers finally go to seed, children find the dandelion clock of fluff irrisistable. They just have to pick and blow and apparently, there is an old tradition to make a wish before blowing hard. This (along with the wind) ensures that the seed is spread far and wide ready for the following year.