Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring awakening

Even though spring in the valley isn't always my favorite time because of the wind, I love, love, love seeing the perennials in the herb garden wake up after a winter rest and once again poke through the soil. Here are some of the first to make their appearance this year! Dandelion (more about her later)
The chives are always the first to appear and I've already enjoyed cooking with them!
Rhubarb Chamomile This brings us to the herbal tip of the week...and our herb is Dandelion! There are so many wonderful attributes of this humble garden "weed" that it could have a whole blog to itself. The whole plant is a wonderful ally for health...roots, leaves and flowers. So many people seem to wage war against this supreme herbal medicine, perhaps because that long tap root anchors dandelion so well to the ground. I wonder if these misguided gardeners would feel the same way if they knew that dandelion creates drainage channels in compacted soils, restores mineral health, aearates the soil and attracts earthworms. And if you still really want it out of there, why not harvest it as a superb food and medicine instead of attacking it with herbicide? There are too many medicinal properties to list here, so for now lets focus on the leaves. If your family is anything like mine, you're really craving green food this time of year. We can't seem to get enough of it. It amazes me how Mason always seems to know exactly what his body needs, and right now it's greens, greens, greens. Dandelion greens are such a wonderful, nutritious food. They are alkalizing, great for the kidneys, stomach and liver, a digestive bitter and a great food for "spring cleaning" your body. They are very high in Vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, iron, and the B-vitamin complex...and that's just the beginning. We like to throw a handful of young dandelion greens into our spring salads, and cook with them as a green in practically everything. I recently made a quiche with dandelion greens, onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes...yum! There are lots of great dandelion recipes to be found. Susun Weed has an inspiring section on dandelion in her book Healing Wise. Remember, the greens are tastiest (to most) before the flowers appear. As far as harvesting dandelion, take care not to take her from an area likely sprayed with herbicides. Many natural grocers now carry dandelion greens as well. Get to know dandelion...she just might teach you a thing or two! And, eat your greens!

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