How to Grow Dandelion Baby Greens in Containers, Indoors or Out
It is extremely easy to grow baby dandelion greens in pots and other containers, even indoors at home. Also mature dandelion greens, which have a more bitter taste than their less mature counterparts, can be grown successfully in pots, provided that the pot is deep enough for the long roots of mature dandelion plants. Dandelion baby greens, which can be eaten raw, are delicious in salads, plus they make a wonderful healthy ingredient for green smoothies. If you're using mature dandelion greens, it is best to cook them as this will remove some of their bitterness. Mature dandelion leaves are used much in the same way as spinach.
To grow dandelion greens in containers, indoors or out, follow the step-by-step instructions below:
1. Choosing a Dandelion Variety and Buying Seeds
Unless you live in the middle of a city, chances are there is a field or garden full of wild dandelions somewhere nearby. If you've read our article about the health benefits of dandelion greens, you already know that these edible greens are loaded with a wide range of nutrients. Wild dandelion leaves can be harvested at the baby leaf stage for consumption as food provided that the field or garden they grew in is not near a road and has not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.
If there's no dandelion field nearby that has not been exposed to exhaust fumes and chemicals, you may want to grow dandelion baby greens in containers (it is best to grow them in containers, rather than directly in the garden, in order to avoid them taking over your entire garden). Another reason why you might want to grow dandelion baby greens in containers instead of picking wild dandelion leaves is the possibility to choose a less bitter-tasting variety. The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale sub-species vulgare), the variety that grows wild in fields and on roadsides, can be very bitter, while gourmet dandelion varieties tend to be less bitter. Some commonly cultivated dandelion varieties you can find in seed catalogues include:
- Amélioré à Coeur Plein – This cultivar yields an abundant crop without taking up much ground, so it's definitely a good choice for 'container gardeners'
- Vert de Montmagny (or French Dandelion) – This is an early maturing and productive variety with broad, dark green leaves and a relatively mild flavor compared to some other varieties
Dandelion seeds can be ordered online through Amazon here (if you live in the US) or here (if you live in the UK). Or, you can collect dandelion seeds from wild plants once they reach the 'puffball' stage.
2. Sowing the Seeds
Pick a deep container or pot with drainage holes, and fill it with organic all-purpose soil. Scatter the seeds evenly over the soil. If your goal is to grow dandelion baby greens (dandelion leaves harvested when they are still relatively small) rather than full-grown greens, you can sow the seeds relatively densely; otherwise, sow the seeds about 2 to 3 inches apart. If you're planning to grow your dandelion greens indoors where there's no risk of wind blowing the seeds away or birds eating them, do not cover the seeds with soil as dandelion seeds germinate best when exposed to a lot of light.
3. Light and Water Requirements
Next, place the container or pot in a sunny location (a south-facing windowsill or a shelving unit fitted with grow lights work great if you want to grow your dandelion greens indoors).
In addition to plenty of light, dandelions need a lot of water to produce a generous crop, so be sure to water the soil regularly. For best results, try to keep the soil moist but not wet.
4. Harvesting Your Dandelion Greens
In ideal conditions, most dandelion varieties reach maturity approximately 85 to 95 days after planting. However, if you're growing baby dandelion greens, you can harvest your crop much earlier.
If you're growing mature dandelion greens, be sure to harvest the greens before the plant flowers, or they will become very bitter in taste. Another way to reduce the bitterness of mature leaves is to cover them or move the pot into the shade a few days before harvesting.
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