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Dandelion, people actually grow it!

Dandelion in field

Dandelion is a plant that grows in the wild in most fields, pastures, and gardens of course.

A summary of key dandelion facts

NameTaraxacum officinalis
Family – Asteraceae
Type – perennial

Height – 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary

Harvest – 10 to 12 months after sowing

Even though it is considered a weed, it can actually be grown and eaten in salad, both leaf and flower.

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Sowing dandelion

Dandelion can be sown right as spring starts, ideally after any risk of freezing has disappeared.

Dandelion can thus be sown from March to July.

  • Break up the soil on an inch (a couple centimeters) or so, to lighten up the ground.
  • Dig furrows 1 inch (2 to 3 cm) deep every 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm).
  • Drop 2-3 seeds in seed holes every 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) and cover thinly with soil.
  • Water regularly to ensure that the ground stays damp.

After sprouting:

  • Thin to keep only 1 plant per seed hole, the strongest and most vigorous one.
  • Keep watering if it doesn’t rain.

Caring for dandelion

Dandelion requires extremely little care, it is much more famous for its hardiness and vigor than it is for being weak and frail…

You can run the hoe along often to remove the true weeds that might alter the proper growth of your dandelions.

  • Dandelion tolerates rather poor soil, no need to add fertilizer.
  • Cut flowers as they appear to trigger budding of new flowers all season long.
  • Water in case strong of heat waves and/or heavy drought.

Blanching dandelion

Blanching dandelion means covering the plants to cut them off from light for a while, to reduce the bitterness of their leaves.

It’s possible to blanch the dandelion by covering it with an opaque garden cloche, a wooden box, empty flower pot or an opaque sheet of plastic.

It you don’t have any of this, simply pile up some straw or dried leaves on the dandelion should be enough to blanch it.

Dandelion before winter

It is recommended to cut all the dandelion leaves 1 inch (3 cm) from the crown and ridge each plant with a thick layer of soil, about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).

Harvesting dandelion

For the dandelion, one can harvest leaves, flowers and even the root. Nothing in the dandelion goes to waste!

Harvesting dandelion leaves

Dandelion leaves are most delicious in spring, while they are still young, for use raw or in mixed salads.

When cooking the leaves, you can harvest anytime during the year.

Harvesting dandelion flowers

Harvest dandelion flowers in spring when the inflorescence is well formed.

Cut the capitulum, breaking off the small stem with a sharp pull.

You can used it to decorate both mixed salads and desserts, and cook it to make delicious dandelion jelly.

Types and varieties of dandelions

  • ‘Ameliore de Montmagny’ – easy to force, very wide leaves.
  • ‘Ameliore a coeur plein’ – dense rosette.

Cooking with dandelion

Dandelion leaves as greens with red beetWith particularly high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene, dandelion leaves are very interesting in salads, soups, and infusions.

The leaves and the roots of dandelion are both edible.

Flowers can bring a surprising decorative touch thanks to their golden yellow color, and they are simply delicious when added to jelly and jam.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: Mary Joyce
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