01 Apr The Dandelion Wars
Last week in this email we talked about the negative effects of lawn poisons on birds, bees, and other creatures. This weekend I noticed that dandelions are starting to flower in my neighborhood. This plant is the cause of more toxins being dumped on our good earth than any other. What can you do if, like me, you are married to a man who has recently retired and is about to take over the care of the lawn and thinks dandelions are EVIL?
First of all, realize that dandelions exist in every single continent on earth. They were brought to America on purpose to provide nutritious greens in the early spring. If you have ever tried to remove them, you will realize they have really deep tap roots. If you leave a piece behind, it will re-grow. Those tap roots are actually going deep into the earth and bring up very valuable minerals. If you do dig up dandelions, you can soak the roots in water and make dandelion root tea, a magical fertilizer water that gives those minerals back to the plants. I do the same thing with comfrey.
Many people eat dandelion greens. We occasionally have folks ask if they can harvest ours because they know we are all organic. They are incredibly high in potassium, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. They are a bitter green and harvested when the plants are young- that is NOW. Dandelion flowers are used to make wine. The roots are a powerful medicinal herb and can be found in health food stores in various forms. The flowers are really important for our early native pollinators. So why are we dumping millions of pounds of poisons on our lawns to kill them?
It’s psychological. We have been taught by the media that having dandelions in our lawns is a sign of a bad homeowner. The mere sight of this yellow flower everywhere creates an immediate knee-jerk reaction in so many. You have two directions to go if you want to protect the environment and do the right thing. The first is to ignore them, leave them alone, and mow HIGH. If you constantly scalp your lawn, the dandelions are much more prolific. The second option is to get rid of them. You can do what my husband plans to do and dig them with that old fashioned dandelion digger tool. Or, you can use the newest incarnation of organic weed killer that actually works really well- Avenger. This
product is OMRI listed. It is an oil that dissolves the waxy cuticle that covers all plant leaves. The plant then dehydrates from the root up. This is not a systemic and does not kill the root BUT it kills the entire top and if used a few times, will exhaust the plant and kill it. The only two lawn weeds that it has not shown effective on is ground ivy and wild strawberry. It is quite effective on dandelions if you want to go that route. According to the product website “University and independent testing results prove that Avenger Weed Killer is as effective, but faster acting, when compared against leading synthetic herbicides.”
We do have corn gluten in stock and many folks are buying it. This is a weed seed inhibitor. It does NOT kill existing weeds. It STOPS weeds from germinating (think crabgrass…). It is still a bit early to put it down as the weather has cooled off. We usually say to apply it not only to prevent weed seeds from germinating but also as your first lawn feeding in the first few weeks of April.