To the Editor: As our brown and yellowed lawns are emerging from under multiple feet of snow, we see the robins flocking to get those early worms.
And we know that soon the green shoots of grass and all other kinds of plants will begin to emerge. The earliest flowers to appear will most likely be the crocuses and the coltsfoot and dandelions—offering the early rejuvenating sips of nectar to our bees and pollinators.
If you are a “lawn purist,” you may have tried to eradicate the dandelions, which despite all such efforts will continue to appear.
And this year, please let them grow! Not just for the sake of the survival of bees and pollinators, but for their medicinal and nutritional value for humans as well! Truly, every part of the dandelion is widely respected by herbalists for its medicinal and nutritional qualities.
In many parts of the world, its green leaves are used as one of the first plant sources for vitamins and minerals after a long winter.
Lately, I have discovered the fresh leaves in our grocery stores among the lettuce. Those who appreciate the dandelions will enjoy them in fresh salads and pesto or as a substitute for spinach.
And teas made of the dried dandelion leaves and the dried roots are often found in the isles along with all kinds of other herbal teas. But if you have an abundance of dandelions growing in your pesticide-free yard, as I do, all you need to do is go for a walk and collect the fresh leaves in the spring for a delicious and nutritious addition to your salads or sandwiches.
I also dig out the roots of the older dandelions, dry them and store them for a healthy decoction. I harvest and dry many of the dandelion leaves throughout the growing season and store them for the times when I feel a need for an invigorating tea during the cold winter months.
And, then, it is the children who truly love those sunny dandelions and delight in blowing the fuzzy seeds into the air—which of course ensures that more dandelions will grow!
In the wonderful book, “Just Weeds” by Pamela Jones you will find more information on the vitamins and minerals found in the dandelions, as well as in many other so-called weeds that are growing in your garden.