Sunday, 1 June 2014

Dandy-Lions, RAAAWWR!!!!

The dandy lioness is beautiful, strong, and cunning, just watch out for her swift and deadly pounce!

If there is one thing WHCI has in abundance this spring it’s dandelions, colouring our pathways like a pointillism painting of the yellow brick road. Every gardener’s worst nightmare, am I right? Not quite. Dandelions are often overlooked, like many other incredible wild edibles, as pesky weeds but they are actually one of the most versatile and useful plants. Just be careful not to let them go to seed!

From root to blossom every part of the plant can either be used as a component in some delicious dish or used to treat a plethora of ailments. Pluck some of those deep roots in spring for a little population control, and roast them into a tasty coffee replacement. The bitter taste of the root is reminiscent of coffee and stimulates the digestive tract, doubling as a liver tonic. Now that’s what I call a good morning pick me up! Not to mention being completely local and bypassing the problematic practices of many coffee growers and manufactures.

The early spring leaves can be used as salad greens or sauteed up with some pasta, while those lovely little yellow flowers can be fried up into Dandelion Fritters, fermented into Dandelion Wine, or dried to make tea! What a surprisingly useful culinary delight. 

Okay, so we've given due praise to the dandelion gods and harvested as many as we can for all our culinary creations now it's time to nip them in the butt before they all go to seed and propagate in every bed, pathway and pot in our garden, cue mulching madness. 

Mulching is a gardening practice used for a number of reasons: to keep moisture in, keep weeds down, regulate extreme temperatures, and create habitats for beneficial insects. It can be done with a a variety of materials including: wood chips, straw, grass clippings, cardboard, leaves, plastic etc. As you can see we've already used a lot of straw to mulch our brassica beds.

See all that grass and all those dandelions in our paths? To them we say, "hasta la vista, baby!", weed-wack them right down, throw on a ton of cardboard and cover it up with about 6 inches of wood chips. 

Three van loads of cardboard and 3 truck loads of wood chips later and we've finished mulching about 1/3 of the paths in the garden. Thank goodness for my dedicated volunteers, who spend every lunch hour, digging and shoveling and getting dirty to make this garden thrive. With this warm weather everything is really taking off and in no time we'll be harvesting our first radishes, greens and peas. Stay tuned folks!

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