Here at Joules HQ we have started our Summer clear out of the beloved garden. However, there was a problem…..Dandelions! Unsure how to deal with these we asked our good friend and wonderful gardener Laetitia Maklouf for help…….
One of the things that I learned very early on when I finally got a real garden to grow things in, was that I was a closet colour snob. Without even knowing it, I had planted the entire garden without even a smidgen of yellow. I had no idea that I had committed this terrible crime, until one day in my garden’s first summer, I walked into a sea of dandelions that had flowered over night in the lawn. They looked like blotches of pure gold, wafting around in the long, un-mowed grass, and suddenly I realised that these little sunshiney gems were ‘completing’ my garden. I immediately went out and bought more yellow plants, and have adored dandelions ever since.
Of course, if you let dandelions take hold in your garden, then it becomes a problem getting rid of them. They are tough and ingenious, with a long tap-root and a flat rosette of leaves which laughs in the face of a lawn-mower, or any traditional method of removal. But a few dandelions are a joyful thing, as well as being a real asset to your garden and your plate. Bees adore them (and we like anything that bees adore) and with more health benefits than you can list in a week’s worth of blog-posts, the dandelion is a must-have addition to any summer salad.
A dandelion leaf salad is the obvious way to go. Simply pick the leaves, wash and anoint with good dressing, and you have a health-giving bowl of yum right there, for absolutely nothing. The flowers are equally edible – either remove the petals and scatter them in salads or on cakes, or use the entire flower head to make fritters:
A large mound of washed dandelion flowers, each with a 1cm bit of stalk attached
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
Simply whisk up the flour, eggs and milk to make a batter, hold each flower by its stalk and dip it in the batter, and fry until golden, flipping once or twice.
Put the fritters on kitchen towel to drain and shower with salt.
This is the best way to live with dandelions in your garden, because it means that you pick the flowers before they go to seed (when they become those charming cotton-ball ‘clocks’ that children like to blow), and that’s the way that they spread. If you make it your business to harvest those that you have regularly, then you and your dandelions can be friends forever.
You can follow Laetitia on Twitter @LaetitiaMaklouf