Almanac: Forcing Dandelions and Fighting Illness


Awhile back, I dug up some dandelion roots to grow indoors. This may sound like the first time ever that someone has intentionally grown them, but the Italians and French have a long history of cultivating them and gathering them wild. I’d read a note in an Eliot Coleman book about certain varieties of dandelions that you can force (that is, grow indoors from roots) and I wanted to try. I had this dream of going to the basement to harvest gourmet leaves in the dead of winter. What a bonus that I could use weeds from the garden along the way.

Well, five weeks later and the experiment was largely a failure. The leaves were crisp and slightly bitter but they were not leafy enough to make a worthwhile garnish, much less a salad. I reckon this could be better if one had about fifty roots, but I am not that desperate for dandelion greens in the winter. That said, I’ll still be foraging them up in the early spring. They go great with wood violet leaves for an extra-early wild health tonic.

Speaking of health tonics, I have a runny nose right now. I’m treating it with my entirely-ineffective home remedy of hot beef stock with miso, lemon juice, ginger, pepper and shiitake mushrooms. I boil it up and then strain it and sip it like a tea. It probably does nothing to help me recover faster, no matter the myths I tell myself about vitamin C and the anti-nausea power of ginger. It DOES get me to drink more water, though. That (plus pharmacy-grade pseudoephedrine) should knock this out in no time. I’ve still got work to do.