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Though considered a weed by many, dandelions have a place in the garden as a medicinal herb and a tasty, though bitter, green. Dandelions grow easily from seed in both cool and warm climates. One of the best tips for planting dandelion seeds is to plant twice a year for a summer and a late fall harvest. Planting depth, soil temperature and preparation, and growing conditions are all important considerations when planting dandelion seeds.
One of the best tips for planting dandelion seeds is to start with good soil preparation. A 2- to 4-inch (about 5- to 10-cm) layer of compost or seasoned manure should be spread over the surface of a cleared garden bed. A tiller or garden fork can be used to work the organic material into the top 6 to 8 inches (about 15 to 20 cm) of the soil. Once the soil is turned, it should be raked flat in preparation for seed planting. The organic material improves soil texture and nutrient levels while turning over the soil creates a light, aerated environment for the the best seeds and seedling growth.
Dandelions grow best in a spot in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. These plants, commonly considered weeds, are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, including sandy soil, rocky conditions and heavy clay. For best growth, dandelion seeds should be planted in a spot that has loamy soil and good drainage with at least four hours of sun a day. Areas that have standing water during part or all of the year generally are not suitable.
Another tip for planting dandelion seeds is to plant in spring as soon as the soil warms to 40°F (about 4°C) or above. The seeds require 85 to 95 days from seed planting until the plants are ready to harvest. Spring-planted dandelion seeds mature for harvest in mid summer. A second planting in mid to late summer provides a late fall harvest.
Dandelion seeds should be planted 1/4 to 1/2 an inch (about 6 to 12 mm) deep and 1 inch (about 25 mm) apart in the prepared garden bed. Once the dandelion seedlings grow 1 to 2 inches (about 2 to 5 cm) tall, they should be thinned to a spacing of 8 to 12 inches (about 20 to 30 cm) apart. The thinned seedlings can be replanted or taken to the kitchen to add to salad and cooked greens dishes.
This plant is edible during all stages of growth. The leaves can be eaten as a bitter green, cooked or raw. The younger the leaves, the more delicate the flavor. Dandelion leaves, roots and flowers make a healing and nutritious tea as well.
As a crop, dandelions are easy to grow — so easy that they have a tendency to take over when not controlled. To help prevent dandelions from spreading throughout the garden and yard areas, the plants should be harvested before the flowers turn into white fluffy seed heads. Once the seeds scatter, dandelions will pop up everywhere.