As a lawn-owner for less than 2 months (lawn under snow doesn't count), I was very excited and happy about the idea of nurturing millions of wee little grasslings to their full, green, lush, grassy potential.
As soon as the snow was all melted, I surveyed my smallish backyard, and got prepared. "I will have a beautiful lawn within 2 years!" I vowed. I avidly googled "spring lawn care", raked up the thatch, applied the right kind of fertilizer at the right time, and researched nifty little push-mowers* that we could buy.
So imagine my consternation when I first noticed a few innocent dandelions popping their unassuming little yellow heads out of my lush-green-carpet-to-be.
No worries! I grabbed a great big edger and dug them up. I threw them into the garden patch, to deal with later.
The next day, I noticed a few more. Unsure of the wisdom of digging large holes in the lawn for every dandelion, I took a nice little garden trowel, and dug up some more. And the next day, more. Everywhere I looked, there was a little nest, with one sleeping little bud, ready to take over the entire planet.
Dandelions are insidious things. They play nice, with their cute yellow flowers and fun, fluffy tops that are oh-so-delightful to blow, make wishes on, etc. However. They're tricky. They pull out very easily, as if to say, "Ok, ok, you got me." But the ones that don't put up a fight at all have just broken off, leaving inches of root below the surface, which will spawn a new plant overnight! Grr.
Have you ever pulled out an entire dandelion root? Most of the ones I've gotten are at least 6 - 10 inches long, and those ones often still look "broken" at the bottom, meaning that I didn't get it all.
I once spent a full day trying to dig up a bed of day lilies, and by the end of the first hour, I was convinced that they were aliens - the far-reaching length of the roots, the ease with which they just break off, happy to start again, the clusters of little alien-like pods... I still shudder to think of it.
Dandelions are like that, to me. The greenery blends in to my lawn perfectly, which means you can only see them if you comb through the grass like a lunatic (which I do, now) while your children... well, I don't know what my children are doing: I'm looking for dandelions, dammit! The little nests remind me of little Audrey Twos, all getting ready to grow and grow until they're big enough to eat me and ruin my Somewhere That's Green. I have filled bucket after bucket of dandelions, with as much root intact as possible, to throw into my composter, and do you know what? When I open the lid, there are hundreds of dandelions still growing. In the dark.
Now perhaps I'm a little off-balance to take this as a personal vendetta, but I was lucky enough to be able to convince one of my P.O.W.s (Prisoners of Weeding) to tell his side.
Dandelion Representative: Me not tipe good. Littel redhed try to kill us with shuvel and buckit, but we win! Ha ha ha...ha! Take over plannit! Ha ha ha!
That's quite enough of that. I suppose that, if I must, I could follow some culinary advice from Doug Green:
Treat the young leaves of dandelions as you would spinach. It can be used fresh or stir-fried and I'm told they taste best when they are grown in the shade and are blanched. Slice the roots and peel them; they can be eaten raw in salads or roasted/fried as part of a vegetable dish.
The yellow blossoms can be eaten fresh, fried, mixed into breads or made into wine.
Dandelion leaves can be made into a health tea and the roots dried and ground up for coffee (like chicory).
Just to make your day, the plant is a fine source of iron, copper, potassium and half as much phosphorus as spinach and twice that of cabbages. It has the same calcium content as spinach and is an excellent source for Vitamin A and C. The roots are said to be a digestive stimulant.
Dandelion representative: Um, wait... Redhed frend?
*A note on push-mowers: not only are they cheaper than gas or electric, but you get a light workout, and the thwack-thwack-thwack sound is oddly satisfying, as is the feeling of moral superiority one gets when one uses a push-mower. Hey, I search out moral superiority where I can.