Dandelion papercut – handcut from 100% rice paper by Li of Papercut Diecut
A wise person once said, “It’s only a weed if it bothers you.” Or, in the case of my yard, “It’s only a weed if it bothers the people next door.” Most people want a lush, green, lawn; free of weeds, including (or especially) dandelions. Personally, I’m fine with a bit of colour in my grass, but that opinion is not shared by my neighbours. So, in deference to their wishes, I am going to make a concerted effort to keep my yard relatively weed-free this summer; in an eco-friendly, non-toxic, low-maintenance way, of course. In my research of earth-friendly ways to eliminate Dandelions, I found myself way off-track discovering all sorts of interesting facts about them, too.
Dandelions have a long history as a medicinal herb. In fact, Taraxacum officinale, the scientific name for dandelion, translates to “the official remedy for disorders”. Applied topically, the naturally antibiotic juice can be used for treating everything from warts and corns to clearing eczema and acne. Taken internally, Dandelion promotes regularity and is an effective diuretic, blood purifier and kidney tonic. With a coffee-like taste and all of the medicinal benefits of dandelions, “Dande Day” is a great alternative for people looking to kick the java-habit. Jesse, of Good 4 You, roasts dandelion root and combines it with chicory to make an all-natural, caffeine-free coffee substitute.
As an edible herb, dandelions rank as of the most nutritious leafy greens out there; high in beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and K. The leaves can be used in salads, soups and stir-fries, while the flowers are most commonly used for beverages, such as wine and tea. With this in mind, four:paper’s Jacklynn includes a recipe with each of her wildflower-inspired notecards, like these (above) featuring cheerful, golden dandelion. (Note: although dandelions can be found just about everywhere, be sure to do your foraging well-away from public areas that may have been sprayed with poisonous herbicides, or look for organic greens at your local market or farmer’s market.)
Dandelion fine-art print by Sunshine Art & Design
In addition to being good for your health, dandelions are actually good for the eco-health of your yard…just ask any ladybug. They are a favourite of aphids (a ladybug’s favourite food) and help to detract them from your precious garden plants. Studies have shown that plots containing dandelions contain more ladybugs and fewer aphids than dandelion-free plots. As a result, the gardens with dandelions had less plant-damage and higher yields. In the lawn, dandelions help to aerate and feed the soil and, when you think of it, can actually make your yard-work easier.
I think I would have a hard time finding a mother who hasn’t at one time or another been offered a sticky fist-full of golden dandelion blooms. Perhaps it is their accessibility and abundance that makes dandelions a favourite flower for children everywhere. I remember spending hours as a child wishing on dandelions that had gone to seed; blowing as hard as I could on the white puffs to ensure that my wishes would scatter as far as the wind could carry the seeds. (Much to the chagrin of weeders for miles, I’m sure.) I still find myself drawn to dandelion puffs, but perhaps in the interest of weed-control I should pick up of these cute tees by Ellembee and make as many wishes as I want without scattering seeds throughout the neighbourhood.
With all of that said, however, I’m still going to have to get my dandelion situation under control before my neighbours revolt. According to the experts, the first step is to promote a healthy lawn through regular maintenance and judicious weeding. At the suggestion of a trusted friend, who is a bit of a gardening wiz, I have picked up an addictively-fun (really!), long-handled weed puller to use on some of my in-lawn weeds. As for the weeds popping up in the sidewalk cracks, I am going to try plain old boiling water, straight from the kettle. Once I’ve made myself a cup of dandelion tea, that is.