The common dandelion (botanical name: Taraxacum officinale) is found in temperate regions all over the world. It is a tap-rooted biennial or perennial plant and is entirely edible in fact dandelion leaves are high in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, and may be used as salad greens. In spring before flowers appear, the greens are most tender and least bitter; the flowers may be used to make dandelion wine and the plant as a whole has been praised for centuries for it’s medicinal properties.
Dealing with dandelions
But, we’re trying to keep dandelions out of the flowerbeds and lawns and the best method is to encourage a thick healthy lawn that will choke out most weeds. Likewise maintaining healthy aerated soil in the flowerbeds and gardens, amended with compost or mulch for a lower acidity will discourage dandelions and other weeds that prefer more acidic soil. A big plus for loose well aerated soil is that the weeds are uprooted easily.
Remove dandelions by the root
Plucking off the tops will prevent the dandelion seeds from spreading in the wind but to get rid of the entire plant, pull it up by the roots. Gadgets for uprooting dandelions include the hand held heavy screwdriver-type tool and the hand spade to loosen the root. There’s also the no-bend dandelion weeder that lets you pull tap-root weeds by stepping on the weeder, pressing prongs into the ground to surround the root then pull from the handle.
Most plants won’t stand up to boiling water and as with getting rid of chickweed and clover, boiling water on weeds works best on small patches only. Boiling water will be hard on the grass so have grass seed handy to reseed damaged patches; for large plots requiring extreme weed control, sterilizing the soil and other organic herbicides are better options.
Vinegar – organic weed control
Spraying household vinegar (5% acetic acid) on dandelions will kill them; vinegar also works on foxtail and Canada thistle and is most effective when the plants are young, less than 5 inches tall. Higher concentrations of acetic acid will work on older perennial weeds but their effectiveness depends on the frequency of use, type of weed and age of the plant. Acetic acid in all concentrations will damage the lawn but for stubborn weeds in the sidewalk and driveway cracks, it works great!
Corn gluten meal – organic weed control
The ultimate organic weed control, corn gluten meal (CGM) is a pre-emergent weed killer which means it prevents roots from forming as the seed germinates resulting in the plant dying before it has a chance to start. I discovered corn gluten meal when doing research for organic methods of getting rid of crabgrass and quackgrass, and for organic fertilizers. CGM also fertilizes the lawn making it the perfect organic weed-and-feed.
Photo credit: Microsoft clipart