Prairies are used for excellent pest control

Prairie gardens can be described as natural, native gardens. They are pleasing to look at because they include flowers, grassy textures and you will always see wildlife. Subconsciously, the human eye understands that it is looking at a healthy ecosystem and that these plants grow where they belong. Prairies are used for organic, natural pest control because its design attracts, deters and takes care of every possible problem known to that area.

To get a prairie right, you have to ideally copy what grows there naturally.

The latest trend in organic, perma-cultural, regenerative and even mono-crop farming includes environmentally friendly pest-control methods – which are in fact as old as the hills. Biological pest control methods involve planting wild flower strips (let’s call them bug highways) around their crops. The plants attract pollinators and beneficial insects to take care of pests. Herbs are especially successful in both attracting the right insects and yet deterring pests. Thus rendering the use of pesticides useless. As pesticides impact on bees negatively (to name one terrible side effect), planting prairies only makes sense.

Check out this list of pollinator-attracting plants https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/ and the companion planting list will show plant combinations that deter pests and what https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/28/companion-planting/

A good tip is to plant 1 third grasses and 2 thirds perennial flowers. These plants should be planted in clumps of 7 each (i.e 7 grasses next to 7 flowers of one kind and also 7 of another – and repeat as you i.e plant your border around the veggie patch). Include bulbs for your under-planting and you will have a great-looking mini-prairie in no time. Look at your nearest botanical garden. What mid-size flowering perennials and ornamental grasses did they include there? Those are good choices to go on the list. Make sure your soil is well draining and fertile by adding compost and mulch. Adopt no-dig principles and let the mycorrhizal fungi settle.

Prairies are used for their many benefits: mainly-indigenous prairie gardens are mostly maintenance-free, attractive and highly beneficial in terms of inviting back wildlife and restoring ecosystems. They act as mega supermarkets to pollinators and birds, reptiles and other critters that was part of the once natural balance.

Indigenous wildflowers, grasses and bulbs are conditioned to thrive where they are from and thus have lower water and feeding requirements, but higher resistance to disease and pests. They cause soil improvement, prevention of erosion plus higher yields of food crops.

Prairies are used for farming and food gardens where natural methods are practiced. Purely indigenous is not where the focus should be but rather everyone lives by the golden rule of diversity above all else. If great diversity can be achieved through indigenous choices, that is of course best and also the main idea behind permaculture. We can only benefit by honoring this all-inclusive method, and our planet’s health will be restored in no time.

What is urban farming? A solution!

What is urban farming and its benefits? Growing enough food in the garden for one, or many families, to survive on. Urban agriculture saved Cuba from going under, and it can save the world from looming food challenges.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, Cuba lost its main food provider and were thrown in the deep end. This was the time of dig-deep and stand together.

Their plan of action however proved successful and the world can now benefit from their lessons learned. Cuba looked at available land and started growing food as fast as possible. Rice, citrus, tomatoes and greens, potatoes and bananas are the crops they focused on (which replaced the once all important sugar cane mono crop).

What is urban farming in terms of effort and planning? We have outlined the basic how-to’s of urban gardening here https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/26/farming-urban-backyard-homestead/ with very easy to follow guidelines and how to create your own successful allotment.

Due to a lack of synthetic control measures, Cuba had to (fortunately) resort to biological control including compost (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/06/diy-compost-easily), companion planting (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/28/companion-planting/) and attracting beneficial insects (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/).

About 5 years after their food imports came to a halt, Havana itself had 25,000 family-and urban cooperative tended vegetable allotments.

Thanks to constant soil improvement (see these easy tips on improving soil health: https://gardeningeden.net/category/soilhealth/) and regenerative and permacultural gardening (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/04/permaculture-abundance/) methods, these allotments soon produced food all year round. Single crop (mono culture) spaces such as sugarcane farms, largely came to an end, to make way for organic food-producing land.

We need to remember that all climates differ and growing according your climate can easily be summarized as follows:
-Grow most leafy (salad) greens and vegetables during a warm summer when sunshine is available.

-Fruit (shrubs, creepers and trees) are best planted in the early spring in a moderate climate. 

-Root vegetables such as beetroot can be planted at the end of summer for maturing during autumn/fall.

-High-yielding winter grains like rye is best grown in cold, wet climates. Corn and rice for example are better suited to warm, moderate climates.

“For other countries vulnerable to sudden loss of food supplies, Cuba’s experience suggests that urban farming can be one way of staving off potential famine when imports are restricted, expensive or simply unobtainable.” By Climate News Network, 13 Nov. 2019.

This wonderful video should be titled: what Cuba can teach the world about organic farming

Grow potatoes in containers to save space

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African proverb

Don’t have enough space for potato growing? You’re probably right. Unless you grow potatoes in containers. I have learned from a bunch of great gardeners about their tried and tested methods to growing potatoes and sweet potatoes above soil. These clever ideas all revolved around containers made from either firm materials such as wood or also other surprising materials such as feeder bags. All surprisingly do-able, smart ideas aimed for growing potatoes with least effort and best yield. Note: these “containers” are mostly recycled, cheap or free.

My favorite grow potatoes in containers examples are:

A wooden box container made from 4 x small doors: When all the doors are locked together, they form a square planter. The planter can either have a bottom or be open to drain into the soil it stands on.

  • Pro’s: If made from a hard wood, or wood that is for example scorch-treated, this container will last forever. You can move it around and harvesting is made easy by unlocking the doors when the time is right.
  • Cons: to grow potatoes in cobtainers this way, can be a pricey process, especially if you build them big enough to carry a descent amount of spuds.
  • How To: Fill a third high and plant. Keep filling to hill as the potatoes grow. Once the potato stems have browned, open the doors and let the potatoes roll out.

Did you know? The scorching method has been used for centuries in Japan and is known as shou sugi ban. The fire-charring method on the wood surface is followed by a coating of natural oil which effectively preserves the wood as it is also followed with a coating of natural oil.  

Rolled hessian or feeder bags: Allowing you to always at the right height.

  • Pro’s: The depth can easily be adjusted by simply unrolling the sides. These bags can be used as a recycling alternative and will most likely be free. Watch out for over-watering though!
  • Con’s: Finding a descent hessian bag may not be as easy as plastic options and nobody wants to grow in plastic. Fabric bags may not last longer than a season.
  • How To: Roll the bag low so that your first planting depth is correct. Unroll and fill with soil as you need to hill around the ever-taller plants. At harvesting time, simply empty the bag out.

Wire fencing loop containers: Double loops of recycled wire fencing works a charm and any size is achievable.

  • Pro’s: Finding damaged fencing is easy and usually free, making this a fantastic recycling option. The material is light and easy to work with allowing an easy set-up and harvesting. The material can also be used again and again.
  • Con’s: If you are using damaged wired fencing, make sure there’s no rust or sharp points.
  • How To: Double loop the fence into a barrel and secure. Fill to the right starter height and add soil as the plant grows. Once at brown stem, harvest-stage, un-fasten the fence and let it roll open to release the soil and spuds.

Stacked tire towers: A re-using idea well known by any and all that has ever likes recycling tires in the garden. It is another easy-to-dismantle idea to grow potatoes in containers.

  • Pro’s: Used tires are available to any and all, mostly always free of charge. The material itself helps retain water very well and will last probably forever.
  • Con’s: Is the material used in making a tire safe for eating? Although nobody suggest you eat the tire itself (smirk), the rubber/tire particles can leech into the soil. An alternative to planting straight into the tires, is to line them out with un-printed and plastic-free cardboard, followed by the soil so that there is no direct contact between tire and soil. Don’t let the soil get too wet.
  • How To: Lay tire 1 down, fill with soil and plant. Once the plant needs to be supported, stack the second tire on top and fill with soil to hill around the plant. A final, 3rd, tire will be needed for height. When the harvesting time comes, these tires can simply be removed.

Buried under a mount of old wood chips is a method used by some successfully, although it is not planted a container.

  • Pro’s: This is the lowest-effort option of all and your soil is fed while the wood chips break down.
  • Con’s: wood chips can lack in nutrients and rob your soil and plants of nitrogen while it breaks down. Make sure to read and understand the How To below.
  • How to: Never use new but at least 1 year old wood chips. Grow a legume, such as peas or peanuts, nearby to provide further nitrogen. Lay your potatoes or sweet potatoes on the ground and dump a mound of wood chips over these. As the stalks grow through the chips, keep adding more wood in order to ‘hill’.

My favorite option for sweet potatoes is a wired fencing loop that can act as container and also trellis for the edible greens that we harvest. For potatoes, I will probably daydream about becoming a good bag lady (hessian or other cotton) .

Thoughts?

Growing Vegetables in Shade – a list of shady plants

Did you know? Green leafy veg that is grown in shade, is less bitter.

Does your garden site receive as few as two hours of direct sunlight a day or only get dappled sunlight? Growing vegetables in shade is possible! – but make sure you select plants that will tolerate and grow in these conditions. You can not force or convince a fruit bearing vegetable like tomatoes, to thrive in shade.

Partially shaded: A garden that has light shade or dappled shade all day, or gardens that receive 2 – 6 hours of direct sun per day, either in the morning or the afternoon with light or full shade otherwise.

Lightly shaded gardens receive a few hours of sun plus plenty of indirect or reflected light for many hours each day.

Deep shade refers to almost no sunlight at all. Only root crops will tolerate these growing conditions.

Growing vegetables in shade will be successful with these vegetables that will grow in partial shade:

  • Beets (will tolerate a lot of shade)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots (will tolerate a lot of shade)
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Endive Greens
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (will tolerate a lot of shade)
  • Radishes
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Summer Squash
  • Turnips
  • Watercress

Examples of herbs that will grow in partial shade include:

  • Angelica
  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Chives
  • Garden Cress
  • Horseradish
  • Lemon Balm
  • Loveage
  • Mint
  • Parlsey
  • Rosemary
  • Sweet Flag
  • Valerian
  • Woodruff

Keep in mind:

  • Growing vegetables in shade means maturing will take longer.
  • Planting near walls will reflect more light on your plants.
  • Planting in containers will allow you to move your plants around as needs arise.
  • Yields will be smaller when griwing vegetables in shade.
  • Seed germination will be more successful if done indoors.
Just over 4 minutes of great advice!

Farming in small backyards: Urban homesteading.

Farming in small backyards vs growing gardens simply for ornamental reasons, which are now as outdated as owning a Prince Albert tea set that may almost never be used. Farming in cities and towns, known as urban agriculture, is the future and possibly the planet’s saving grace.

Where to start when considering farming in small backyards?
Combine edible and ornamental plants, insect and animals and micro-climates to create a sustainable ecosystem. The outcome should be a beautifully space to harvest food and also relax in.

Edible and ornamental plants are grown side by side as companions (see https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/28/companion-planting/ ) to attract beneficial, and deter harmful pests. This really works! Your need for pest control will drop dramatically. Always plant successively so that you harvest today, next week and the week after from the same type of plant by sowing plant types 10 days apart.

Container gardens are a great consideration in regards to farming in small backyards: turn a little (possibly rented) outdoor space or window area into a small urban farm. This is an easy and cheap answer to most people.

Most importantly, the focus needs to be on polyculture (a word to describe growing many different plant types together) which will maximize yields. Combining climbing plants on a corn plant (which acts as a trellis) with pumpkins at their feet (to shade out weeds and help with water retention) is a great example. In order to do this successfully, you will need to feed your soil with compost. This is a great opportunity to stay within your own loop and use your own kitchen and garden waste to create soil food (see how to compost easily: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/06/diy-compost-easily)

Animal inclusion does not come easier than keeping quails (for smaller gardens) or chickens. Quails can be kept in a mobile upside-down chicken-wire “box” that allows them to move on bare earth but be protected from predators. They can thus be constantly moved to new spaces. Make sure the size of this wire-basket is big enough to allow their bodies to take up only 10% of the entire space and the rest is for moving around. Provide water and top-up food. Chickens and quails provide free pest control, fertilizer and eggs. It’s a win-win situation.

Ornamental plants are grown to attract pollinators or feed your bee hive if you have one. Group larger numbers of flower plants and herbs together because insects need spot these plashes from far away or they will fly to your neighbour’s. Would you like to see a plant list of pollinator attracting plants? Check these out: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/
Alternatively, keep your own bee hive. It’s never been this easy. Check out the mason jar method: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/25/is-mason-jar-beekeeping-method/

Mason Jar Bee Hive: the diy method

Beekeeping made easy

Want to keep your own bees? It’s never been this easy.
Mason jar bee hive is an ideal consideration for small spaces. The smallest suburban backyards can be a perfect haven for honey bees to build hives.

Note: Find out from your nearest municipal office what you may do in your given location before setting off to make your mason jar bee hive. Another great idea is to contact a local beekeeping group and ask them for advice regarding the bees that occur naturally in your area. They will most likely be the best people to advise you.

For a mason jar bee hive, you will need:
a) 1 piece thick, unpainted plywood (this is where the honey jars are inserted into where the hive will exist so keep in mind the weight factor when you consider the strength and thickness of this wood);

b) 4 pieces of unpainted wood for the top frame, 2,5cm (1″) in height. The plywood should be a bit smaller than the surface area of the brood box;

  • Screw the 4 pieces of wood around/to the plywood to create a frame.

c) Place and trace around one mason jar lid at the corner of the plywood. Use a hole-cutter and cut out the circle hole inside the lid-tracing otherwise it will be too big when you want the mouth of the mason jar to fit the hole snugly;

  • Once you are happy, cut out all your circles.

d) Beehive bottom board (same size as the top frame);

e) Assemble the hive next. Set the bottom board, followed by the brood box where worker-made cells will house eggs, larvae and pupae to develop. Then place the queen excluder at the top;

  • Tip: Plastic excluders weigh much lighter. (Don’t know what an excluder is? An excluder is a barrier inside the beehive that allows worker bees through, but not a larger queen or drone to get past.)

f) 4 paint-free wooden side-panels for the hive, all of similar heights;

  • Finish construction by attaching and screwing together the wood panels and the frame to create a box-like structure with the plywood and holes on top while the bottom is open.

g) Wide-mouth, sanitized mason jars Fit the jars and ensure they all fit properly around the holes;

h) Starter strips / empty combs;

  • Finally fit the jars with starter strips or empty combs inside to lure bees inside (and keep them happy outside with these plants https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/). These starter strips and empty combs are available for sale on the internet and sellers post them to you. Let the bees do what they do best. Get bees from a farm. Like the empty combs/starter strips, you can find one near you online. Once filled with honey, you can close the jars lids for cover again.
  • Note: not all bee spesies are o.k with this type of bee hive.

The only question left is, why have you not done this before now?

Make your own Fungicide with simple ingredients

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. “Michael Pollan”

Make your own Fungicide to opt for a safer product that also does not harm insects, animals and birds. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Make your own fungicide and zap the uninvited fungal guest with these easy fungicide recipes with every day ingredients.

1) Bicarbonate of soda spray: Mildew and black spot
This natural fungicide is effective when used to prevent and treat a wide range of fungal diseases.
How? Mix together 1 tablespoon each of bicarbonate soda and vegetable oil, with a couple of drops of all-natural dishwashing liquid and 4 litres of water. Spray when/as needed.

2) Milk Spray: Black Spot and mildew treatment
Make your own fungicide and deal with fungal challenges due to humidity, rain or being planted very close together.
How? Mix one part full-cream (ideally organic) milk with 10 parts water and spray weekly.

3) Bicarbonate soda and vegetable oil spray: Mildew and blackspot
Another effective treatment for affected plants.
How? Mix one tablespoon of bicarbonate soda with one tablespoon of vegetable oil, two drops of all-natural liquid and 4.5 litres of water. Spray plants thoroughly as a disease preventative or as a treatment.

4) Vinegar Spray: General fungicide
An effective treatment for black spot and other fungal diseases – but take caution to only spray this solution during the cool hours of the day.
How? Mix 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ideally organic) in 2 litres of water. Spray as treatment, when needed.

5) Compost tea: Treat early blight, black spot and fungal diseases
The microorganisms in manure compost tea treat fungal diseases very effectively and the compost tea will also feed your plants and soil with nutrient-rich goodness.
How? Fill a plastic bucket 50/50 full of compost and water. This mixture should rest for 2 weeks after which you can strain the concentration and remove solids. Fill your spray bottle with 50/50 compost tea and water, plus a table spoon of vegetable oil to spray foliage and affected plant parts. Treat any and all trees, perennials, annuals and vegetables.

Always make sure to take caution and protect your skin and eyes. Even if you make your own funngicide all natural, like these sprays, they may be too strong for sensitive areas and cause harm. Test the fungicide on a single plant first, wait for 2 days and see if it is OK to use at that strength.

Make a natural Pesticide from these easy recipes

“We must not forget that chemical warfare will sooner or later bring in its wake bacteriological warfare, pest propagation, typhus and other serious diseases.” Ferdinand Buisson

PMaking your own environment-friendly pesticide is a solution for many gardeners that want to protect ibsect and wildlife. Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

Make a natural Pesticide from these recipes with ingredients found in every kitchen:
1) . Salt Spray: Deter slugs and beetles
This may come as a surprise, but salt spray is a fantastic, and one of the best and most natural, pesticides and it will also help increase absorption of magnesium, plus vital nutrients like phosphorus and sulphur.
How? Add some salt to hot water and stir the solution well until dissolved. Let it cool and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plants lightly to moderately, repeating weekly.

2) Onion, Chili And Garlic Spray: Control aphids, caterpillars and other insects
One of my favorite sprays, this 3-in-1 spray deter many pests and can be sprayed daily if needed.
How? Make a natural pesticide by adding 1 small handful each of chopped chili, garlic and onion to a liter of boiling water. Turn the heat down and let it stand until cool. Strain once cool and use this concentration to be mixed with 50/50 water in a spray bottle.

3) Include food for Aphids predators
What? Sunflowers, mint, fennel and yarrow, dill and nasturtiums attract ladybirds, praying mantis, lacewings and hover flies. These little hero’s love sorting your aphids out for you.

4) Nasturtium, Chili and Garlic Spray: Wide range of pests
How Mix the chopped and crushed Nasturtium, chili and garlic with vegetable oil and a little bit of molasses or all-natural dishwashing liquid to use as a spray (after standing for 24 hours first).

5) Eucalyptus oil is your friend when considering to make a natural pesticide: Deters insects and bugs
The strong smell of Eucalyptus works effectively and fast.
How? Add enough drops to your spray bottle with water to have that strong Eucalyptus smell. Shake well and use regularly.

Note: Always make sure to be careful by protecting your skin and eyes qhen planning to make a natural pesticide. Also test the spray strength on a plant first, wait for 2 days and see if it is OK to use at that strength.

What are Keyhole Gardens? Pretty and practical

“…we should not confuse order with tidiness. Tidiness separates species and creates work (and may also invite pests), whereas order integrates, reducing work and discouraging insect attack.” (Bill Mollison: “Introduction to Permaculture”)

Every heard of, and wondered what are keyhole gardens? Keyhole designs are ideal for smaller food-gardens.

What are keyhole gardens good for except convenience?

These designs include a composting centre. This clever concept allows the surrounding plants to draw food from compost as it becomes available. Alternatively, the centre can be a tree, insect hotel or other feature.

Mandala is a sacred geometry pattern and in some cultures it represents the universe and the idea that life is never ending while also all-connecting. For some, this may be purely decorative but for others it illustrates a spiritual journey. Mandala gardens should ideally incorporate a keyhole design for easy movement, better usage of planting space due to less pathways and easy accessibility to all the plants.

-As with all our raised, no-dig designs, we start with marking the shape and size out with our frame-material. Recycled bricks, wood, stones or even hay bales can be used. These materials may produce wonderful habitats for insects – make sure to consider this as a good bulk of your pest control and pollination will come through insects.
-Once the shape is in place, we follow with our favorite no-dig, lasagna layering method. To create a sheet mulch bed, one must start with plastic-free cardboard. Water the area first, sprinkle some compost to attract worms, follow with cardboard. Lightly water again.
-Now layer with green mulch, then brown materials, compost and newspaper.
-Repeat this process until you have a 35cm high bed, ending with a 10cm layer of mulch such as straw, bark or wood shavings.
-Water moderately until moist but not sopping wet. Keep the area moist over the next 2 months.
***Do you know what plants are considered green or brown materials? Check out the composting materials for a comprehensive list of nitrogen and carbon examples: https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/06/diy-compost-easily/

It may take about 2 – 3 months for the layers to decompose and turn into a planting heaven.
This is the perfect time to plan your planting list and layouts. Honor the decorative aspect of Mandala Design and the ecological logic of Permaculture by incorporating:
1)Diversity in your keyhole garden design
Secure a stable ecosystem by planting different species together and inviting a variety of beneficial insects to help with pollination and pest-control. Bio diverse polycultures are resilient due to the number of harmonious relationships between the different species as time passes.
2)Decorative keyhole gardens
While a healthy Eco system is our first and most important priority, we’re going to simultaneously aim for a visually pleasing planting scheme. The idea is to imitate the conversation between many different species.
3)Plant Guild Placement
-Make sure to understand the characteristics and needs of your plants. Consider needs and characteristics. Create for example micro-climates where needed by planting wind-hardy half moons around fragile plants that need protection. Group heavy and light feeders together to avoid soil depletion. Place together companion plants that help protect each other from pests or offer their extras in the form of mineral exchange. Peas and grains swap nitrogen and carbon and literally thrive when planted near each other.
-‘Three Sisters’ Guild is a Native American Indian guild that inter-plants corn, squash and beans together by planting corn in the centre of a mound of soil, surrounded by beans and squash on the outer edge. The corn provides a natural trellis for the beans to climb on. Beans will improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen and releasing it through Rhizobium bacteria in the roots. Squash plants create a green cover crop that will prevent water loss and weed competition.

Permaculture-friendly plants to keep in mind:

-Regenerating food forests are best, and so perennials are preferred over annuals.
-Natural fertilization is key and legumes will fix nitrogen in your soil for other plants. Grow beans and peas up trellises with perennials around them on ground level.
-Deeper rooted plants will bring nutrients from deeper soil levels upwards while loosening the soil at the same time.
-Fast growing plants can be used for cover crops that can be chopped and dropped for ground covering. We do this to add to soil health, shade out weeds and help retain water.

Lastly…
Work out a symbiotic companion plants list and place them on your paper design to cover one quarter of the circle. Imagine a pizza slice. Sun needs, wind tolerance and feeding needs should guide you. When you are happy with your composition, repeat the same design on all 4 quarters. Incorporate insect-friendly hotels, for the insects are true gardening experts whom we need more than we give credit to.

“…we should not confuse order with tidiness. Tidiness separates species and creates work (and may also invite pests), whereas order integrates, reducing work and discouraging insect attack. European gardens, often extraordinarily tidy, result in functional disorder and low yield. Creativity is seldom tidy. Perhaps we could say that tidiness is something that happens when compulsive activity replaces thoughtful creativity.” (Bill Mollison: “Introduction to Permaculture”)

Dandelion has health benefits – parts used

Photo by Natalia Luchanko on Unsplash

Dandelions was considered a weed back in the day, but we all now know Dandelion has health benefits and this little plant punches above it’s weight in nutrition and awesomeness. The leaves of this perennial store high amounts of vitamin C, beta carotene, iron and potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, riboflavin and fiber. Compared to many edibles Dandelion has mealth benefits that are far more nutritious than many fruits and vegetables and these little plants are super easy to grow too. As far as soil health is considered, this must be the easiest cover crop imaginable!

Dandelion has health benefits that include:
Tonic to the liver and kidneys, blood and digestion.
Treatment for blood pressure and cholesterol.

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale subsp. vulgare) are wide-spread and super easy to grow, but the greens are bitter. Sweeter varieties that are also simple to grow and include the medicinal properties, include:
French Dandelion (Vert de Montmagny Dandelion, Amélioré à Coeur Plein Dandelion and Pissenlit Coeur Plein Ameliore Dandelion).
Improved Broad Leaved Dandelion (Arlington Dandelion).
Improved Thick-Leaved Dandelion (Dandelion Ameliore).

Alternatively, grow dandelions in shade and harvest early mornings to get sweeter leaves (this is true for spekboom leaves too).

Parts used:
– The leaves or whole, mature plant when it starts to flower: used to help digestion.

  • Soak greens in cold water with a little salt for a few minutes and drain before steaming 2 – 3 minutes until tender.
    – The flowers have antioxidant properties: boosts the immune system.
  • Flowers can be dried for making tea, or whole in a salad.
    – The root: powerful liver and gallbladder cleanser.
  • Dandelion root can be dried and used to make a tea but can also be eaten in its whole form.

Note: Dandelions may interfere with other medication and interacts with medicines that treat diabetes or control blood sugar levels. Always seek advice from your medical practitioner first.
Never harvest from plants that grow near a road or treated with chemicals.