Growing Dandelions for Food and Health
Don’t Kill ’em… Grow ’em!
Not only are we not interested in getting rid of the dandelions in our yard, we’re actually growing dandelions to eat! That’s right… we PLANTED dandelion plants!
We LOVE dandelion greens!! Just writing this, my mouth is watering and I’m longing for a huge bowl of dandelion salad.
Most people prefer the tender dandelion leaves that are harvested before flowering because they’re less bitter. I love them anyway I can get them. Serve with a little balsamic vinegar, toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts tossed with a little feta crumbled (optional) and man… it’s a taste I never grow tired of.
Besides dandelion green, the entire dandelion plant is edible and medicinal with tremendous health benefits. Dandelions are SUCH an amazing little powerhouse of a plant, we’re seriously thinking about growing them commercially and starting our own dandelion farm. Meanwhile, we’ve got some growing in our hugelkultur beds for the past couple years and have planted new ones this year.
If you’re growing dandelions as a superfood specialty crop, please send us a note. We’d love to chat with you to learn more. We can also add your information and farm name and link to this article.
CAUTION: DANDELION ALLERGIES
People who are allergic to related plants such as ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies, may not be able to enjoy dandelions. Approach with care and caution.1)https://nccih.nih.gov/health/dandelion
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article and website cannot be construed as medical, nutrition or health advice. We are not medical professionals and are only sharing information gleaned from our own experience and research.
Eat the Weeds!
Some of our favorite weeds to eat from our yard and the wild areas around us are chickweed and dandelions. We use chickweed in salads and soups and also on sandwiches like sprouts.
Chickweeds are also a good substitute for watercress in our favorite potato leek soup, which is great hot or cold, depending on the time of year and your preferences. We’ll include the link to that recipe in an article about chickweeds here and also at the end of this one as well.
Dandelions to Eat
Dandelion Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale
Dandelion Common Names: Dandelion, Lion’s tooth, Blowball
The other wild edible plant we eat most is dandelion. We especially love dandelion salads with toasted hazelnuts or pine nuts and roasted garlic and balsamic dressing. Here’s that dandelion greens recipe we use most often because it’s a delicious, quick and easy recipe: Dandelion greens salad recipe.
We also use dandelion greens for green juice and the dandelion root tea for detoxing and tonifying the liver.2)https://gardensall.com/food-as-medicine-benefits-of-organic-food-from-the-garden/3)https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/dandelion
From cursed weed to natural cancer cure… don’t kill the mighty dandelion!
Dandelion Nutrition – Taraxacum Officinale
- Have more vitamin A than spinach
- Contain more vitamin C than tomatoes
- Are a powerhouse of iron, calcium and potassium
- Deliver food and medicine, from root to leaf to flower
We enjoy these so much that we actually planted a crop of dandelions (!!) this year in our experimental hugelkultur bed. We have to be patient though because you can’t start harvesting dandelions until the second year.
Don’t discard the dandelions… eat them! Dandelions offor detox directly from nature’s medicine cabinet.
A Market for Wild Roots and Weeds
Many in the GardensAll and Planting for Retirement communities are interested in earning money from their surplus produce as well as figuring out how to earn a living growing intentional crops for market.
Growing dandelions for profit may just be one good option, IF you also like dandelions. If you’re growing to sell, be sure it’s a crop you also enjoy.
We like the idea of earning money growing and selling these nutrient packed powerhouse of a plant the delivers food and medicine from every part of its being.
Dandelions deliver food and medicine from root to leaf and flower.
The Dandelion Market
In 2014, these were the going rates in the Kentucky market, as published on ProfitsFromNature.com.4)http://www.profitsfromnature.com/may-root-prices-kentucky/ Naturally, prices will fluctuate each season and year, so always check with your local buyers.
Herbs – Price per Dried Pound
- Goldenseal $18.50
(Note: Most dealers don’t want you to start digging any goldenseal until June because the quality will be better then.)
- Goldenseal tops $5.00
(Note: Dried tops must be green in color, not brown. Do not dry in direct sunlight.)
- Bloodroot $12.50
- Virginia Snake Root $100.00
- Star Grub Root $75.00
- Mayapple $3.50
- Black Cohosh $3.75
- Prickly Ash Bark $2.00
- Dandelion Root $1.00
- $2-$4/lb for Fresh Dandelion Greens currently retail from between $2-$4/lb in the NC area grocery stories and sometimes more for organic.
- $27/lb for Dried Dandelion Leaves – average price in bulk; costs a lot more in tea bags
Naturally, to sell dried dandelion leaves would require a commercial dehydration or freeze drying system, which can be costly. However, if you’re investing in any kind of farming of specialty crops, this would definitely be worth researching.
Plan for Waste
Consider the possibilities of after market and added value products for any crop you plan to grow. If you’re growing elderberries, for instance, consider the prospect of selling frozen elderberries and/or jams and syrups.
To plan for added value products converts possible excess crops and market leftovers into more profitable items.
Herbs and Weeds for Healthier Consumers
Here’s an excerpt on Yankee Magazine that sums up the marketability and market potential of growing and selling edible weeds.Though this is a bit dated, it gives you an idea of trends.
It seems a very odd time to start charging high end prices for things that grow for free and were, for the most part, a cornerstone of survival for many during the Depression. Though it doesn’t seem like an odd time to start appreciating what grows in our yards and in the near forests. According to your own taste, there is an abundance of food out there that can be had for free.
~Edie Clark, writer, YankeeMagazine.com5)http://www.yankeemagazine.com/article/marysfarm/foraging
Some people earn money killing dandelions. We’d rather earn by growing them!
Weeds Feed Your Garden Soil
Okanagan Biodiversity Farm
Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, famous permaculture instructor and wildcrafter, talks about the street value of dandelions and polyculture.
He calls this 0.85 acre plot “edible acres” or “Okanagan Biodiversity Farm”. He grows about a hundred different crops on this plot as a market garden including raspberries and elecampane. And… he grows—and sells—weeds like dandelions!
Michael lets the dandelions go all season, and then he harvests them in the fall and sells them! During the growing season, the dandelions and other weeds feed the surrounding plants.
Dandelions are solar collectors, distributing collected energy to nourish the soil and feed your plants.
Skeeter explains that plants like dandelions are solar collectors and pump half of their collected energy into the soil to feed the web of life which then fertilizes other plants. Weeds also help to keep the soil from getting compacted. Tap-rooted weeds (dandelions have a wonderful tap root) can also bring nutrients up from deep soils.
“Weeds in your pathways will feed your crops. Bare dirt will not feed your crop.”
~Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, permaculture instructor and wildcrafter
4 Kinds of Weeds in the Garden
Skeeter says there are four kinds of weeds in the garden:
1) real weeds that he doesn’t like
2) weeds he makes money on
3) crops that have spread
4) native plants
Other weeds he likes to encourage includes lambs quarters, red root and malva neglecta (aka common mallow or marsh mallow).
Skeeter likes the tap-rooted weeds, like dandelion, because they don’t spread with rhizomes.
We hope you enjoy this video with permaculturist and wildcrafter, Michael “Skeeter” Pilarski, as much as we did.
$900 for selling your weeds..?!
(And it’s legal in every state!)
Shared from Paul Wheaton’s Permies.com6)http://permies.com and YouTube channel.7)https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsakAmIBPWSKOQrnuOXIsjA
Benefits of Nutritional Weeds
Dawn Jackson Blatner, a Chicago-based dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association shared in a Wall Street Journal article by Anne Marie Chaker:
“These plants learned how to protect themselves from the sun, the wind, the bugs, and those who eat them are reaping the benefits of that matrix of immune systems. One man’s weed is another man’s wonder food.”
~Dawn Jackson Blatner, dietician8)http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124338226000356493
“One man’s weed is another man’s wonder food.”
Dandelions for Curing Cancer
Long used for detox and healing, dandelion is now being studied for healing cancer, with positive results.9)http://reset.me/story/dandelion-root-kills-cancer-cells-in-lab-tests/
Enjoy this Tedx presentation on ‘Nature, the Best Chemist’ by Dr. Siyaram Pandey.
“The best chemist is nature.”
The Best Chemist is Nature
Obviously, cancer is very serious and not something to treat alone. Consult you doctor and doctors working in this area of alternative healing and get informed for intelligent application of the best treatment options for you.
And… we’ll close with this enchanting time lapse video of a dandelion flower’s growth from bud to blossom to seed over a one month period. Enjoy!
- Flowers for:
- Leafy green dandelion salad
- Leaves chopped into:
- mixed salads
- green juices
- dried for tea
- dried and powdered for:
- green juice
- sprinkled on any foods
- Roots dried for:
- coffee substitute
- Stems for
- Wart removal
Doses for Dandelion Remedies
The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommends the following doses for dandelion, posted in a study on the benefits of dandelion for diabetes :11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553762/#ref151
- Fresh leaves 4-10 g daily
- Dried leaves 4-10 g daily
- 2-5 ml of leaf tincture, three times a day
- Fresh leaf juice, 1 teaspoon twice daily,
- Fluid extract 1-2 teaspoon daily
- Fresh roots 2-8 g daily
- Dried powder extract 250-1000 mg four times a day
And… as promised, you can find the Potato Leek Soup recipe at the end of this article on edible backyard weeds.
Let’s keep on growing!
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always been interested in medicinal herbs and getting nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. As a family we’re eager to dig more deeply into gardening and edible landscape for the love of fresh organic foods and self sustainability. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community.
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