Noxious? Invasive? Abundant!

One of the advantages of knowing the virtues of "weeds" comes with preparing spring vegetable garden beds. I don't turn the soil of these beds. At most I use a broad fork to loosen and aerate the layers of topsoil without disturbing them. After all, those layers are vital ecosystems that support my own intentions, and so much more! And at the least, on those beds that haven't been stepped on, I loosen only the top layer with my hand fork, to prepare the bed for seeds.

As I prepare each bed, each in its own time, as I make it ready to receive, I remove rooted friends that I both allowed to grow from last season as well as those that snuck in. Pictured here root-examples of both. Can you name them?

The longer, straighter roots at the bottom of the bowl are Taraxacum officinalis radix, the beautiful dandelion root. I harvest these in every season, but spring is generous and they're so easy to remove from the soil of my main vegetable garden. I clean them, dry them, roast them in the oven until they're brittle-dry and store them in a jar for enjoying as a delicious, bitter and nutritional, roasted-root beverage that supports my digestion, my liver, my gallbladder, and then some... a nutritional tonic beverage that is often referred to as dandelion root coffee. Yet, as one who honors her organic, fair trade, morning coffee, I don't use that term... the flavors between the two are distinctly different.

Dandelion is often (too often) described as a noxious weed. This pickles me like you can't even imagine. This all too ubiquitous phrasing demonstrates our modern perception of Nature... as something inferior, something to be judged harshly, demonized and controlled. As for me, on the contrary, I see this botanical not as noxious weed, but rather as an abundant food (and Medicine). Which... it is. I use the leaves, the flower petals and the roots. And, dare I say it, we all "should."

But before a rant commences, let's take a peek at those other roots ...

The more pale roots on top, the ones with reaching fingers, are the roots of a local invasive called Allaria petiolata radix, the root of the plant commonly known as garlic mustard. This plant pops up all over my little acre and, like the dandelion, I harvest it in every season, and right now I'm focused on gathering the roots to chop and grate to macerate in living apple cider vinegar for several weeks, and I use the young early spring leaves in salads and in cooking. The vinegar will get used in salads and in other ways, and the root is used as one would use our more conventionally known horseradish. And its flavor is similar, though not as fiery. It's quite delicious. And what a great way to leverage the (invasive) abundance of this botanical! Later in the season I add the flowers to salads (to prevent a few seeds from spreading, and later still I'll collect the seeds to use as one would use any mustard seed. But, more on that in its own season.

My point ~ in this moment, anyway ~ is that Nature is generous. Holistically so. It's time that we all remember this, before its completely forgotten.


Walk in the Woods, LLC


Corey Tucker said...

garlic mustard?

rose of Walk in the Woods, LLC said...

Yes, Corey... garlic mustard. It grows *everywhere* around us!

Kim Elovirta said...

Beautiful! I love my dandelions - food, medicine and a cheery yellow to boot. Do you cut the roots before roasting? I need to start leveraging more of my crop.

rose of Walk in the Woods, LLC said...

Kim ~ the small, finger roots I keep whole, removing the more slender ones as they come crisp. But, it's really a matter of preference.

For preserving, I like to keep the herbs as whole and intact as possible, leaving chopping, breaking, cutting, powdering for time-of-use.

Tammie Lee said...

I also have a big reaction to people complaining or poisoning dandelions! I love every thing about them.

we do get wild chives or i believe nodding onions in certain parts, but i have never had garlic mustard, sounds good.

you have inspired me to gather some dandy roots, they will be too hard to get out of our clay soil when it hardens.

Healing Woman said...

Your wealth of knowledge amazes me. I know it comes from experience and I am in awe.

sheila 77 said...

I so agree with everything here.
Someone once said that if dandelions were rare, we would pay a lot for them, the flower is so attractive.