The Common Dandelion
The dandelion is a perennial herb that is native to Eurasia. Its scientific name is Taraxacum Officinale. This amazing herb is unfortunately treated as a pesky, useless weed. In reality, it is quite the opposite! Dandelions provide many benefits to us and our environment. One way in which they improve the environment is by improving soil conditions. Dandelions have deep, penetrating root systems that break up the soil. They also use these root systems to bring nutrients up to the surface, which will eventually aid other plants.
All parts of the dandelion are edible. Dandelion greens are incredibly nutritious and provide a host of health benefits for us. The dried roots of dandelions are popular as a coffee substitute. They are also used to make a medicinal tea. The fresh, tender dandelion leaves and flowers taste great in salads, and the leaves can be cooked like spinach. As you can see, this lowly dandelion is actually a fantastic herb!
Dandelion Health Benefits
Dandelions are rich in calcium and good for bone health. They are also rich in antioxidants, which helps reduce the effects of ageing. Dandelions may be used to help treat liver disorders, gall bladder and urinary disorders. Although further studies need to be done, it may have properties to help fight cancer, treat anemia, high blood pressure, weight loss, and much more. The leaves have a diuretic effect while the roots act as an antiviral agent, appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and may help promote gastrointestinal health. Some health care providers use dandelion root to promote liver detoxification and the leaves to support kidney function.
Buy Dandelion Seeds
If you live in Canada, you can purchase dandelion seeds here. The two varieties available are French dandelion and common dandelion seeds. French dandelion produces larger leaves.
How to Grow Dandelions
Dandelions grow best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade, although it will tolerate most soil conditions but prefers fertile, well-draining soil with a pH of 7.5. It is hardy in zones 3-10.
The seeds can be sown anytime from spring to fall. Dandelion seeds require exposure to light to stimulate germination. Always surface sow the seeds, and space at least 6″ apart, for best germination results start the seed indoors in sterilized soil; black earth/peat moss mixture—transplant outside after the risk of frost. Flowers, leaves, and roots are all edible.
Harvesting: As soon as the leaves are large enough, you can harvest the outer leaves first as you would with lettuce.