Weeds. They're polarizing little things, met with hatred by some and indifference by others. I, for one, am not loving the dandelions popping up in my yard this spring, as we've been working on a grassy (albeit imperfect) area for our son to play in without resorting to chemicals, and dandelions are foes of grass (especially tender new shoots).
Once they spread their ground-hugging leaves, they stifle what's around them, leaving only dirt behind. Thus, I've decide to hand-dig them. This route is definitely the most labor-intensive, but it's manageable and it leaves you with lots and lots of dandelions that you can actually eat
since you aren't spraying your yard full of chemicals.
What You Need
- lawn with dandelions you want to harvest or eradicate
- digger (This can be as specific as a dandelion digger, or as general as a small shovel. I use something in between: a multi-purpose planting knife by Fiskars.)
- wagon (optional) I used a wagon to haul the full bucket to a larger container, which was filled with dandelions by the end of my efforts and given to a local farmer for feeding livestock.
Choose a day to dig right after a good rainfall. This will make the ground softer and increase your chances of pulling as much root as possible.
Gather the stem and leaves of one plant into a bunch, revealing the base of the plant low to the ground.Put the digger into the ground parallel to the root of the plant, pushing it 4 to 6 inches into the earth.
With it still in the ground, angle the digger about 30 degrees to loosen the earth around the root.
Gather the dandelion's stem and leaves and slowly pull up, wiggling the plant back and forth a bit to loosen further if necessary.
Voila! Roots and all.
Lightly tamp the soil back down where disturbed.
(Images: Regina Yunghans)