Monday, July 28, 2008

Update on Dandelion

Ok so I found an article in a Country Homes Magazine circa 1987 that had an article about Dandelions! Thanks mom for never throwing any magazines away. Anyway it said that dandelions should be harvested early spring before they flower, not in the middle of July. Which I knew...really I did, but my life isn't exactly in tune with the seasonal nature of plants yet. I am hoping that sort of thing comes with experience harvesting over the years. Also my plan to rinse it in a series of bowl filled with water was exactly what it suggested, so go me! It also contained a recipe for hot dandelion green salad which sounds quite yummy actually, which I will type up here.

Hot Dandelion Salad

makes 3 servings
6 slices bacon
1/4 cup red wine or apple cider vinager
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 pound dandelion greens, trimmed and washed
12 cup thinly cut green onions

In a large heavy skillet, cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble. Discard all but 1/4 cup fat. To bacon fat in skillet, add vinager, salt, sugar and pepper. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat one suagr is dissolved and add greens. Sitr quickly until green wilt stir in bacon and onions. Taste and adjust seasoning, serve warm.

As for Dandelion roots (or really almost any root you are harvesting) harvest after the plant has flowered and the plant is making ready for wintering. This ensures that the plant is storing nutrients in the root, when in flower all the plants energy (nutrients) are going to the seeds. Fall is usually the best time, but you can also harvest roots in early spring before the plant sends up shoots and flowers if you need to. July works too since it isn't in bloom and its had more than a month to be storing energy.

Friday, July 25, 2008


So I harvested all that Dandelion and I suppose you are wondering why? Maybe not, but since nobody leaves comments anymore I can just assume for myself what you all are thinking. Dandelion has different uses when you are talking about leaf or root (or flower*), though I often find I use both leaf and root together for certain things.

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) were brought to the states by the Irish who knew that dandelion was one of the most nutritous, easy to grow foods out there. Having just been wiped out by the potato famine they weren't willing to starve anymore. Dandelions are now grow in every temperate region of the world (and in every backyard, har, har) . Dandelions are known to be high in potassium, iron, calcium and vitamin C (if eaten right after picking!).

Dandelion leaf is an amazing diuretic because it not only increases flow of water through the kidneys but in a gentle way. Diuretic drugs often strip the body of potassium, but Dandelion is one of the best sources for potassium in the plant world (better than banana's!). I find this combination of good diuretic packed with minerals and vitamins affect in Stinging Nettles as well and I often use them in combination when looking at kidney function.

The best way to utilize Dandelion is in a long cold infusion. (take 2 tsp for every cup of water and pour boiling water over the top, then let the tea steep for 4-8 hours in the fridge before straining and drinking) Or you can simply eat the leaves in a salad. Dandelion leaves can be bitter (especially after the flowers have died back) so it is best to eat them in the spring! I use the more bitter leaves for a digestive aid, so the batch I just picked will go in a seperate jar.

Dandelion roots have a seperate function and work more with the liver and gallbladder, though they retain a fair amount of diuretic action as well, though not as strongly as the leaf. For liver troubles I pair dandelion root with burdock expecially when their are skin complaints associated with the liver congestion. (this is also where the more bitter leaves can come into play!)

Dandelion is often paired with yellow dock for anemia. Dandelion is very high in iron, however yellow dock has very little, or none. In tests it has been proven that yellow dock may increase the absorption of iron without actually containing any itself.

List of Actions: Diuretic, hepatic (improves liver function), cholagogue(makes your bile flow more easily--do not use when you have gall stones!!!), antirhuematic (improves arthritis), laxative (see cholagogue), tonic and a bitter.

The thing I notice the most about Dandelion is its actions are all related. It improves flow of water and bile through the body and feeds the body as it pushes things out.

Combinations: I most often use Dandelion with Nettles, Burdock and Milk Thistle.

Safety note: As with all plants in the Asteraceae family their may be a sensitivity issue with this plant caused by a reaction that is similar to an allergy. It is rare but if you have aster sensitivity avoid this plant. Also the latex in the stem of the plant can be irritating if handled for long periods of time.

*primary use of flowers is for Dandelion wine, which isn't exactly medicinal except as a diuretic like everything else in the dandelion

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Map of where I have been and where I am going

Hey, so Jillian found another cool thing to put on the blogs. Its a map that shows where you have visited(blue), lived(red) and where you want to go (green). As Jill said the list of where I want to go is massive, but I narrowed it down to where I plan to visit in the next five years or so. Its certainly not a comprehensive list by any means and frankly I know the list will change as opportunity, money etc presents itself. Its down at the bottom of the page if you want to check it out :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinalis

I decided to harvest dandelion root and leaf today since I avoided mowing the lawn for two weeks and the leaves are still happy and lush. It didn't take very long and it was quite satisfying when I managed to pull up the whole taproot. I also noted how the soil around the dandelions is nice and loose, due to dandelions knack for aerating. I will actually hang the dandelion leaves later, for now I was being too lazy to do more than place them on the drying rack (under the flour sack towel).

My one concern with the whole process was how much water I wasted in cleaning. I am sure their must be a less wasteful way to process roots and leaves - maybe just leave the dirt on them?- but the dirt was wet so it stuck really well to the roots and since they were in the grass the leaves were covered with grass and slugs, not exactly appetizing to keep that sort of debris on them. I think I will try soaking them in a pan of water to remove the dirt and slugs, and have a second pan of clean water to rinse them through a second time. I never have this problems with anything in the mint family! Geeze.

Now I need to figure out how to get rid of those tiny bugs all over my Calendula. Any advice is welcome, for now I am hoping those bugs just go away once the flowers are dried. (go away is a relative term since I just noticed three crawling across my laptop screen...I need to stop drying herbs in my bedroom.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Horrible Is Online!

So after too many people went to go watch Dr. Horribles Sing-along Blog yesterday and crashed the site, I went by the site today to see if it was up yet. I just got done watching it and it is genius....evil genius at that! I think I will buy the season from iTunes so I can download it properly so that tomorrow when part two come out tomorrow I don't have to hit pause every 5 seconds.

For updates about what's going on check out their twitter page, and there is also a fan site already up that is holding updates.

Go watch it. NOW!

UPDATE: site is working now!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July is Here!

...and you all know what that means. That's right its time for a new Herb of the Month. This month I have chosen Tilia commonly called Linden in North America, or Lime Blossom in Europe.
Linden is a deciduous tree that is native to Europe, Asia, and eastern North America, here in the west it is a non-native imported from Europe. Tilia's are often planted along roadways and in parks. It's distinctive blossoms are easy to distinguish once you know what to look for and they are in full bloom right now.
Linden is most often utilized as a nerve tonic tea. It is a common remedy for frayed nerves and inability to sleep. It is specifically for those that are nervous, don't trust anything and want to be in control. It is also very useful in relaxing one to sleep, especially children. Linden has a pleasant aroma (it really does smell like limes) and tastes floral, sweet and tangy.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I have taken it into my head that I want a Vespa scooter. I like this one in midnight blue.

I really don't know what else to say about it. I blame Paris.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Biosphere Art

One of my new favorite blogs has an interesting interview about an artist in Seattle who is creating self contained biosphere's as art,her name is Vaughn Bell. It is a very fascinating subject to me, I am interested in peoples relationship to plants and the psychological response, which seems to be her focus.

My friend Brianna from Bastyr did a report once on the fact that driving out to the woods and just being in nature actually has a calming psychological affect and is being used as a treatment for children with ADHD and hyperactive disorders. Maybe the real reason for the epidemic of this disorder is disconnection from nature, not anything else. If I did research I think it would relate to such things.

I am also interested in the subject of how houseplants affect on our psyche, but also affect our health, since they can removed toxins from the air and oxygenate and moisturize a room. Houses and offices with live plants are healthier environments.

As an extrapolation on that idea I have also been exploring the idea in a futuristic fashion in my novel, how houseplants become vital commodities in the future and no building or vessel would dream of being without them. Humans try, but they can never truly escape nature, and really they shouldn't want to.

Anyway go check out the interview, also check out this book I found called How to Grow Fresh Air, by Dr. B.C. Wolverton to learn more about how vital houseplants are from research done at NASA for the space program.