Everyday Gardeners

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dandelion wars

I have to admit that the golden yellow blooms of dandelion can be quite beautiful. But their “pretty” season doesn’t last long. They soon develop fluffy white seed heads that float on the breeze to take root in any available speck of soil.

This year’s crop of dandelions in Des Moines has been prolific! And although the lawn is a lower priority for me than flower beds and the vegetable garden, I just couldn’t leave the dandelions to propagate throughout the neighborhood. Maybe it was was my reputation as a gardener that I was trying to protect. Or maybe it was lingering guilt about “What will the neighbors think?”. Whatever the reason, my husband Patrick and I have assaulted the dandelion scourge with a variety of dandelion removal tools.

I try to garden with few chemicals, so all-out chemical warfare wasn’t a top choice. (I must admit to occasional spot treatment with herbicides, however.) Instead, we use a variety of digging tools to remove the dandelions roots and all. Patrick’s favorite weapon is the Fiskars dandelion digger, pictured on the left side of the photo at right. It has a convenient step bar to aid in puncturing the soil, and a convenient long handled lever that grasps the dandelion root and pulls it out in a single motion. My only objection to it is that sometimes as it pulls out the dandelion root it also removes a large plug of soil, which must be filled back in. I like the long-handled garden trowel at right. The long T-bar handle provides good leverage and results in a minimal amount of bending over. I find that the dandelion root pops out without having to completely remove the soil plug. We also have a traditional forked dandelion digger, which I find just too small for our robust dandelions.

Have you battled dandelions and won? What are your weapons of choice for eliminating the pests? Or perhaps you peacefully co-exist with dandelions, enjoying the greens in salads and using the flowers to make dandelion wine.

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