to get rid of dandelions
By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder
for PlanTea, Inc. and
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Dandelions are weeds, unless you're a child. I'm reminded of the story in "Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul" by David Matz, where a father, in his effort to create the perfect lawn, is on his hands and knees, screwdriver and garbage sack in hand, attacking the "little yellow devils."
Trouble was, it was Saturday and he'd promised his 4-year-old daughter Kayla they'd go fishing. Here's how the father-daughter conversation went:"Pickin' flowers, Daddy?" Kayla asked.
"Yes, dear," he said, digging furiously at a tough root.
"I'll help," she offered. "I'll give some to Mommy."
"Go ahead, sweetie," he answered. "There's plenty."
An hour passed, and yellow splotches still remained.
"You said we's going fishin' today," Kayla complained.
"Yes, I know, dear," he said. "Just a little more flower picking, okay?"
"I'll get the fish poles," Kayla announced.
He labored on, prying up one stubborn root after another.
"I found some worms under a rock, Daddy," Kayla piped up. "I put them in a cup. Are you ready?"
More minutes dragged by.
"You picked 'nough flowers, Daddy," Kayla insisted impatiently.
"Okay, honey, just a few more," he promised. But he couldn't stop. The compulsion to finish the job was overwhelming.
A few minutes later, a tap came on his shoulder.
"Make a wish, Daddy!" Kayla chirped.
As he turned, Kayla took a big breath, puffed, and sent a thousand baby dandelion seeds into the air.
He picked her up and kissed her, and they headed for the fish pond.
(For more stories from Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul, click here).
A dose of dandelion history
In spite of our general attitudes toward dandelions, they've survived the test of time. Also known as swine's snout, yellow gowan, Irish daisy and peasant's cloak, the dandelion has enjoyed allies since the 10th century. The juice of the plant's root is still used by herbalists to treat diabetes. It is also prescribed as a mild laxative and is considered one of the best herbs for building up the blood. And during WWII, dandelions were cultivated for the latex extracted from the roots. The latex was used to make rubber.
Dandelions as the incredible edible
On the dinner table side of the fence, dandelion greens are more nutritious than spinach. They are high in vitamins A and C, and contain impressive levels of iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Looking at the list of minerals, it's understandable why gardeners everywhere take delight in killing two birds with one stone: compost dandelions to return valuable nutrients to the soil while accomplishing a guilt-free method of weed control. Dandelions are also one of the key ingredients in one of the Biodynamic preparations.
In case you just moved here from Mars, dandelions are a very hardy perennial. They survive for many years, developing thick crowns up to 6 to 10 inches across. The good news is that you can get rid of them without resorting to chemicals.
How to stop dandelions in their tracks
1) Mow, Mo' Often:
2) Root 'Em Out:
If you raise chickens, rabbits or other types of critters, dandelions are a favorite green. Remember, they're chock-a-block filled with nutrients, so they're a nutrional boost to their diet. And you can't beat the price.
3) Poach Them:
3) Mulch Methods:
4) Pickle Them:
When applied to the weed foliage, the acid in the vinegar acts as a contact herbicide that kills the plants but does not persist in the soil or cause water or other pollution. For older perennial weeds, you may need to apply vinegar more than once. Try heating the vinegar for added punch.
5) Apply Corn Gluten
To control dandelions, it is best applied to the lawn about 4 to 6 weeks before weeds germinate. If you missed the deadline, don't worry. Not all weeds sprout at the same time, so you may want to apply corn gluten meal a few times during the growing season. Best of all, the nitrogen in the meal will keep your lawn green and healthy. By the way, corn gluten meal is not the same cornmeal you make muffins with. Cornmeal for baking is made by grinding dried corn kernels.
Where can you buy the stuff? Go to your favorite garden center or nursery, or through the mail order supply company Gardens Alive! or call 513-354-1482 (near Cincinnati, Ohio). They pioneered the use of corn gluten with two products: Wow, which is pure corn gluten, and Wow Plus, which has added natural fertilizers.
6) BBQ Them: Some consider it a last resort, but a weed burner torch is effective against dandelions and other perennial weeds.
7) Be Sickening Sweet: Mae West used to say, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful." In other words, improve your soil. Ann Lovejoy, author of "Ann Lovejoy's Organic Garden Design School," told me how she got rid of horsetail by improving her soil with compost and mulch. Weeds, which often prefer poor, acidic soils don't like the good stuff. The same works for dandelions and other pesky weeds. Not only will they be less apt to take root in the first place, but when the soil is fluffy, they're easier to pull!
Thanks for visiting and please stop by again. I'll put the coffee on!
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