Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Dani Hemmat
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Thistle be fun: Weeds you can eat

 

Dani Hemmat

The humble, sunny and often maligned dandelion has many uses.

And natural weed killer recipe if you’re not hungry

We live in Boulder County, which clearly loves dandelions and eschews herbicides. With the mounting proof of the harmful effects of common herbicides, such as Roundup, I feel lucky to be surrounded by the sweet and furry yellow flowers that pop up in most people’s yards, on highway medians and next to sidewalks.

However, I still see some neighbors with big jugs of herbicide, spraying away anything that’s not part of their garden aesthetic. It’s a free country, and folks are welcome to do as they see fit, even if it means endangering bees, butterflies, our food supply and our overall health.

But if you’re really against those green things that aren’t part of your overall garden plan, may I suggest you try a different method this year? One that won’t hurt your health or the bees, one that costs a lot less than commercial herbicides. One that you probably have all the ingredients for in your own kitchen cupboards?

I’ve used this simple weed killing recipe for years. You can either mix it up in a spray bottle or a tank sprayer, which is recommended for large areas.

Combine 1 gallon white vinegar,

1 cup salt,

1 tablespoon liquid dish soap,

Mix well and then put into your sprayer.

The key to this mixture is a two-parter. First, you must apply it when the sun is out, with some sunny days to hopefully follow. Rain or your sprinkler system will wash away the mixture, making it less effective. The second part is that this mixture is not a selective herbicide. Whatever you spray it on, you kill. So, if you’ve got weeds that vex you in your expansive green lawn, then you’ll either want to hand remove them or paint the mixture on with an old paintbrush.

Which brings me to this next pitch. Maybe it’s okay to let some dandelions and weeds coexist with you. Why? First of all, dandelions are some of the first food sources that bees have when they come out of hibernation in the early spring. We need these bees, my friend, and if you don’t know why yet, then you need to crawl out from whatever rock under which you’ve been residing and read any news report from the last eight years.

Second, it’s all about perception. It wasn’t until the 20th century that humans decided that the dandelion was a weed. Before that, people actually planted them, using them as food, medicine and wine. Dandelion leaves are a delicious and nutritious salad, and many parts of this yellow dynamo are great tonics for the liver, removing toxins from the bloodstream, and are also a natural diuretic. Dandelions have more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes and are loaded with iron, calcium and potassium.

Third, they are good for your lawn. You read that correctly. Their roots, while also edible and make a lovely tea, aerate the earth, loosening hard-packed soil and reducing erosion. Their groovy taproots pull up nutrients, such as calcium, from deep in the soil and actually use it to nourish the other plants around them, including the monoculture grass you’re trying to eradicate them from.

Learning to live in harmony with this tough little beauty will not only brighten up the spaces around you, but will end up benefiting the very earth and wild things that we share it with.

Next column, I’ll share how you can eat almost 80 percent of the wild “weeds” growing in your garden and yard, adding new meaning to the term “locally sourced.”

 

 

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