Unexpected Uses for Dandelions
It's pretty much a given that you don't want dandelions in your backyard. While there are a lot of reasons why some people actually like them, the biggest complaint against them is they are land hogs. That is, when they're allowed to grow, they spread out and can take plenty of territory in your yard.
So if you've decided that it's time to say goodbye to those yellow intruders, it doesn't have to be an angry, violent goodbye. Check out the following four unexpected uses for dandelions.
An important note: SunWarrior.com shares that for some of these internal uses, you need to make sure that the dandelions in your backyard haven't been treated with pesticides, herbicides or other toxic, non-natural chemicals. That could spell disaster for you and anyone who ingests them.
1. Dandies for DoggiesDogs Naturally celebrates the health benefits of dandelions for your canine friends. Loaded with potassium, dandelion leaves replace potassium that is lost with urination. It also helps "stimulate the appetite and help digestion along with kidney function. They are an ideal choice for dogs with chronic indigestion or those with gas."
2. Leaves in the Stir-FryThe Treehugger Lawn & Garden blog shares: "If raw dandelion leaves don't appeal to you, they can also be steamed or added to a stir-fry or soup, which can make them taste less bitter. The flowers are sweet and crunchy, and can be eaten raw, or breaded and fried, or even used to make dandelion wine. The root of the dandelion can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute, or added to any recipe that calls for root vegetables."
3. Medicinal PropertiesDandelion isn't just good for puppies; SunWarrior shares a number of study-backed benefits of ingesting dandelion, including improving digestive health, boosting kidney and liver function, balancing hydration and electrolytes, fighting cancer and preventing its spread, regulating blood sugar and insulin levels (thereby fighting diabetes), increasing urination and lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, boosting immune function, and reducing inflammation.
4. Coffee Replacement?If your favorite cup of joe has to be cut out due to digestive issues, high blood pressure, or a general cutback in caffeine, might we suggest dandelion coffee?
According to Leigh Weingus of The Huffington Post:
"Dandelion coffee is a caffeine-free, instant coffee-like blend. It's actually tea made out of roasted dandelion root, which tastes and looks like coffee. Blends often include roasted barley rye, chicory root and sugar beet. It has a similar taste to coffee, but it's less acidic and bitter."
Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner praised dandelion coffee: "Roasted dandelion root contains probiotics, which can help feed good bacteria in the gut for regularity and immune boosting. It also has antioxidants and may stimulate circulation to help reduce inflammation."
OK, so you're convinced. You want to start "harvesting" your dandelions in order to enjoy their culinary and medicinal benefits, but how to begin? Since you want to steer clear of pesticides--which are the fastest and most comprehensive way to clear out your yard, but renders the plants inedible--here are some of the best practices for pulling dandelions, as told by Garden.org:
Pulling"Most young weeds can be pulled from the soil. They will slide out most easily if you pull them when the soil is wet. Getting the root up is crucial, so think of the main stem as the root's handle, and grasp it as close to the soil line as you can. If you find that the weeds are breaking off at the crown as you pull, slip a kitchen fork, dandelion weeder, or similar tool under the weed, and pry and twist as you pull it up. Weeds that have taproots, such as dandelion and plantain, usually must be pried out. A flexible pair of waterproof gloves will keep your hands comfortable as you weed, and it's good to have a nice sitting pad, too. Let pulled weeds bake in the sun for a day or so before composting them. If pulled weeds are holding mature seeds, compost them separately in a hot, moist pile before using this compost in the garden."
Digging"Weeds that regrow from persistent roots must be dug. Use a spade or digging fork to dig spreading perennials, such as bindweed, Canada thistle, and quackgrass. Start digging a foot away from the plant's center to loosen the soil. Then lift the weed from beneath, which reduces how many root pieces are likely to break off and regrow. Dandelion, dock, and other weeds that grow from persistent taproots can be dug the same way, or you can use a special fork-like tool called a dandelion weeder to pry them up. Dig very large taproots that are difficult to pry loose. In lawns and other places where digging dandelions is not practical, use a sharp knife to slice off the leaves and the top inch or two of taproot at a diagonal angle. Some weeds that are easily pulled when the soil is moist must be dug from dry soil."
Need some help with your dandelions? Give North Texas Lawns a call and we'll help you with your North Texas lawn treatments and maintenance.
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