I warned you. So here goes:
Stop spraying chemicals on your yards!!
It’s late winter. Early spring. Whatever. Here in East Tennessee this week we’re gonna hit 80 degrees. In February. We’re all confused. But we press on towards whatever is coming. And I know what’s coming soon is Spring.
This weekend was beautiful, too. So beautiful I sawmany folks buying flowers to plant. And a lot of people carrying the big bottle of Glyphosate (this is not a post stirring up political angst about the use of chemicals by the way). People want green lawns. The same color, height and width of blades. No weeds.
So what is a weed anyway? I’ll tell you what a weed is. A weed is any plant growing where it shouldn’t. Where you don’t want it.
And right now it’s the dandelion. The sweet, unassuming, nourishing powerhouse of a plant. And for some homeowners it’s considered a weed because it doesn’t go with the uniform green-ness of their yard. But if you just see the dandelion for what it is - the lovely life-giving plant it is - maybe you’ll put down the glyphosate in the store and embrace the springiness of the dandelion.
Here are some points I want to make about the dandelion.
- The dandelion, prior to our obsession for Instagram-worthy lawns, was prioritized by homeowners. People would literally pick grass out of their yard to make room for the dandelion! Yes! Why? Because the dandelion is a powerhouse for the soil. Dandelions grow in little space and poor soil to provide the soil with calcium as well as aeration to make it more roomy and nutritious for the next crop.
- Dandelions are some of the first sources for nutrients for bees, birds, butterflies, moths and chipmunks in the spring. They provide nectar and protein for these animals. And you know what Albert Einstein said about bees - that if bees cease to exist humans will cease to exist in four years. Four years! I don’t know about you but I know I trust his science.
- Dandelions are also edible for humans. Dandelions are herbs, not weeds. They remove toxins from our blood, improve the functioning of the digestive system and are known as a “perfect plant medicine”. Dandelions have more vitamin A than spinach and vitamin C than tomatoes. In fact, when scurvy was such a big deal about 100-150 years ago, dandelion teas, drinks, cocktails and even salads saved many lives around the world. Even today dandelions are sold around the world as a boost to immunity, liver function and as a caffeine substitute for a few examples. In fact, dandelion is more expensive than steaks in some regions of the world.
- The US Fish and Wildlife Services says, “Homeowners use 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on lawns than farmers on crops”. You know what those pesticides do? They kill animals. Approximately seven million wild birds die each year due to pesticides. In 2019 alone beekeepers in America lost 40% of their hives, in large part due to pesticides. All to get rid of a pretty yellow flower.
There are a lot more interesting facts and figures about dandelions but these are the ones that always come to my mind when I see dandelions in the spring.
So I’m begging you to STOP SPRAYING THE DANDELIONS! HECK, STOP SPRAYING YOUR YARDS. Seriously, you know who cares about your yard? Nobody. No one cares. Not one person. The only thing it does is create animosity because you mow your yard at 8:00 on Saturday morning (the only morning people can sleep in) and because it robs you of your nap on Sunday afternoon when you’re out working in it.
Give yourself a break and your neighbors a few more minutes of blissful rest. Stop trying for the perfect yard for Instagram (those pictures are boring anyway!). Stop worrying. Let the dandelions live and in the process the bees, birds and creatures God created to give us joy and pollinate our plants.