If there’s one thing nature loves doing more than anything else, it’s changing. It bloody loves a bit of change. You’ve got those humble caterpillars that love transforming into a beautiful butterflies, teeny-tiny acorns that love turning into wise old oak trees, the English weather, which blows hot and cold more often than a toddler playing with a hairdryer with the fridge door open and, to top it all off, dandelions, which can change in more ways than you ever realised.
Think about it for a split-moment: these sun-yellow plants are probably one of the most recognised flowers in the whole world, and yet they’re recognised for being super-annoying weeds that stand out from your lawn like a dayglow-lovin’ raver at Sunday school. But, if you were to ask me, I’d say the dandelion has gotten a bit of a bad rap from most of the lawn-loving crowd.
They’re like the pigeons of the lawn world. “Pigeons?” I hear you mutter. “Yes, pigeons.” I reply. You see, while most birds decided to up-sticks and head into the wilderness when us humans began building towns and cities, the pigeon clan bobbed their heads, cooed a bit, said “nah thanks” to leaving, and found a way to live amongst the concrete, which is sort of what dandelions have done. It doesn’t matter what product you spray, puff or sprinkle on them, these tough little suckers will just keep rearing their bright golden heads. It’s incredible.
And so is the answer: instead of getting laughed at by this Chumbawamba flower every time you try and get rid of one, doesn’t it make way more sense to embrace them?
Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you need to let them commandeer your lawn like health and safety conscious pirates in high-vis – it just means finding another use for them and, boy-o-boy- have I got 5 ideas that are going to make your mind fizz like warm Fanta:
1.Be The Peanut Butter To Their Jelly
Yup. One of the coolest things you can do with these pesky plants is pluck them, bag them, and turn them into jelly. Seriously. Dandelion jelly is totes delicious. Yeah, on paper, in its most literal sense, I’m recommending you wrinkle your nose and bite into weed jelly. But the reality couldn’t taste any different if you spread it on biscuits (which is the yummiest way to enjoy these little beauties btw). It tastes like lemony jam with a dollop of floral scrumminess thrown in for good measure. Anyway, what you need to do is pop a pair of binoculars by the kitchen window, stay on the lookout for any dandelions throughout the year, pick the blossoms of any you do find, pop them in a jar, and store them in the freezer! Then, once you’ve got enough, it’s peanut-butter-jelly-time.
2.A Story From Soil To Oil
My dear old nan loved the idea of growing your own food more than most Amish communities, but she loved growing her own medicine even more, which is why she would get in a right old tiswas should we ever stand on a dandelion by accident. According to her (and a little thing called science) they have gentle, pain relieving qualities. Oh, you’ve perked up now, I see. Anyway, it’s true. Dandelion makes for a great muscle rub and, what’s more, it’s super-easy to make. Bye-bye sore muscles, hello herbal remedy (and sorry for all the bad-mouthing over the years, Mr Dandelion – you’re actually a bit of alright). Here’s the best bit, though: it’s not just infused oils you can create – it’s herbal salves and balms too. You could even scent yours with a bit of lavender essential oil and a) hand it out at Christmas or b) sell it at your local farmer’s market. What a result that would be, huh?
3.Keep It Clean, Eat Your Greens
We might be a few months away from plonking fresh salads on the table, but I figured it may take five months to change your mind about dandelions, which is why I’m giving myself a mucho-big headstart. Anyway, the reason I mentioned the word ‘salad’ is because dandelion greens are a great salad filler. They’re delicious and nutritious, and PYO is pretty fun too. Sauteed dandelion greens – mmmmmm. But that’s not all. The greens also dry beautifully, which means they make a great cuppa too. All you have to do is start collecting them, dehydrating them and then, once you’re well-off on the leaf front, simply crush them into teeny-tiny bits and add them to your tea cupboard. It’s the ultimate detox cuppa. Or, if that’s still not enough, give your crushed up leaves a quick sprinkle on your soup, stews, and salads. They’re basically an all-year-round super-herb.
4.Sweets For My Sweet, Dandelions For My Honey
There are some things in life that are easier to sell than others. “Has the red light come on in your car? Then you need some fuel?” “Do you suffer from hangovers? Then you need a bacon sandwich?” and “Do you like honey? Then, hot-diggity, you need dandelion honey in your life.” It’s an absolute must for any herbal lovers out there. No, it’s not honey-honey and, no, bees aren’t used in the making of it. But you’ll be surprised how similar it tastes. It’s crazy-tasty. And it’s a crazy-great alternative to the normal stuff. And it’s vegan. And here’s how to make it.
5.When Life Gives You Dandelions, Turn Them Into Fertiliser
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from ye olde dandelions it’s this: the greens are uber-healthy for humans and animals. So, with that who-would-have-thunk-it fact in mind, it’s absolutely no surprise they make groovy herbal fertilisers too, the kind that just loves giving back to your garden. This is because they’re absolutely loaded with micro-nutrients that almost every soil-kind is craving. So, instead of cursing up at the high heavens the next time you see one of these flowery little soldiers standing to attention on your lawn, take a deep breath and put the green part back into the ground. Schimples.