Firstly, I love dandelion. It is one of the most delicious vegetables. Why dandelion is not a standard on the grocery shelf along with other tiller weeds, like lettuce, chicory, and cabbage is difficult for me to understand. But, there it is. A delicious wild green that remains largely wild.
The history of the dandelion that follows as written by E. Lewis Sturtevant, a man who was well known in the latter decades of the nineteenth-century but is now largely unknown. Among other things Sturtevant was a farmer, an agronomist, a book collector, and an historian. His library of 1,000 Pre-Linnaean volumes are at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Missouri Botanical Gardens is a leader in the digitization of rare books so many of Sturtevants books referenced in this article can be found online and can be downloaded. Continue reading “The History of the Garden Dandelion”→
I have been growing dandelions in my garden for many years. Where I live in Northern California they are green all year. When they are watered and cared for the plants produce big luscious leaves. I rarely include them in salads. My most common use is as a cooked green. Yes, the wild dandelion can be a little bitter. However, when you take care of them in the garden, and particularly if you grown them in the shade the leaves will be broader and more tender than their full-sun wild cousins. You can also further blanch the leaves by covering the plant with a box for a week or two before harvesting. I don’t blanch as I like the full flavor of the wild plant.
I dug up the wild plants you see in the bucket here from a waste patch in the allotment garden where I grow vegetables. Each plant is actually a cluster of plants growing off the mother plant — the oldest plant with the big tap root.
This cluster of dandelions are attached near where you see the small roots. The next step is to separate out the dandelions and then trim off the leaves before transplanting. Dandelions have deep tap roots so their roots don’t compete with neighboring plants. However, they are low growing and so are best either planted in rows by themselves or interplanted with plants that grow tall. In my vegetable garden I have them planted around artichokes as the artichokes provide shade. Both the artichokes and the dandelions are perennials. When interplanting I’d plant them either with perennials or at least an annual that is long lived, like tomatoes, so they can be in the ground from spring through the fall.