Friday, February 22, 2013

Dandelion Heralds Spring

First dandelion flower of the season, spring is on its way!
Being blessed with our climate, this time of the year still allows us an opportunity to grow a lot of food. I've covered some of the purposeful plants we're growing, but what about all the goodies we're growing but not necessarily meaning to grow?  This includes things frequently termed "weeds."  Now technically a weed is just a plant that is growing somewhere you don't want it to grow, but many plants are known as rather notorious "weeds."  Dandelions, for example, inspire a lot of people to head out into their yard with death and destruction on their minds, but dandelions are stellar little plants with a change of perspective.  For one, they're quite tasty in a variety of ways.  For those of you who know me, you know I love most things (especially wild things) that are edible.  Well with dandelions, you can eat the root, shoot and flowers.  Dry and roast the roots for a tasty tea.  Eat the young leaves in salad or stir fry (a great bitter, excellent for digestion).  Dandelion flower fritters or flower petal jelly or wine anyone?  Ok, so most people know dandelions are edible, but did you know that nice long taproot is great at pulling up minerals from the soil depths?  Chopping the green tops off your dandelions and letting them decompose in place helps release those nutrients back into your soil, right at the surface where most garden annuals (being short rooted) need it.

Two weeks ago I saw my first dandelion flower out at the garden.  Lovely. It was a great reminder that spring is coming and the full on garden season is on its way.  Until that point though, there are plenty of "volunteer" edibles growing at the garden right now.  You just need a little change of perspective to see many of those "weeds" as wonderful food and free labor in your garden.