by Winnie Bowen
It seems everyone I talk to this year has a major complaint of the excess of weeds. My gardens are no exception although I’m seeing weeds I’ve not encountered before. The thistles are easy to get up with the root intact. The dandelions are another story. No matter how I dig or how careful I am, I manage to break off the root 4-5 inches down. So I know I shall have another crop soon.
Generally, I don’t mind as the little bees love them. I will try to capture the spent blossoms before they go to seed and spread everywhere.
In days before dogs ran wild everywhere, during WW II Italian women would walk my neighborhood and dig dandelions wherever they found them, and no one seemed to mind. Now I know why. They used them as a vegetable dish and now I wish I knew just how they cooked them. My dandelions are in a fenced yard and since I use no pesticides or chemicals I’m giving serious thought into maybe harvesting them for my dinner table instead of tossing them in the trash. Sorry, I don’t have a compost pile.
Here is what you may not know: dandelions are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium Manganese, and are a good source of protein.
According to the USDA Bulletin #8, Composition of Foods (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), dandelions rank in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. Minnich, in Gardening for Better Nutrition, ranks them, out of all vegetables, including grains, seeds, and greens, as tied for 9th best. According to these data, dandelions are nature’s richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods, after cod-liver oil and beef liver!
I have a new attitude about dandelions these days and will be a little more thoughtful when digging ’em up.