Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Research on Dandelions

Grow Your Own Dandelions!
Dandelions are hardy plants and grow successfully just about anywhere they are planted. Unlike some delicate flowers, if you transplant a dandelion, the slight trauma of digging it up and replanting it will usually cause the plant to produce more flowers. For this project you are going to transplant a dandelion from a garden or field into a pot that you can take home. Here's how to do it:
Take a plant pot and place a few rocks at the bottom to help with drainage.
Fill the pot half full with potting soil.
Show your child how to dig up a dandelion. Be sure to get most of the long, main taproot or the plant will die.
Place the uprooted plant into the pot, and add more potting soil so that it's firmly planted in the pot.
Water the dandelion well and set it where it will get sunlight.
Check the plant daily and keep the soil damp -- not too wet or too dry.
Within about 10-20 days the plant will grow buds and flowers should bloom. When the flowers die the seed puffs will form. You can explain that the wind usually blows the seed puffs and the individual seeds are released and fly with the wind. Wherever they settle is usually where they will grow to become brand new dandelions.
Be sure to examine the dandelions at all stages of growth. Pick a flower and take it apart. Count the petals. Do the same thing with the seed-puff. Count all of the individual seeds in one tuft. There are lots!
Make Dandelion Jelly!

4 cups packed dandelion flowers (just the yellow blossoms removed from green stems)
3 cups water
4 cups of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 box powdered pectin (i.e., Sure-Jell)
Strainer and cheesecloth
Put yellow dandelion blossoms and water in pan over high heat. Bring to boil and then immediately turn down heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the water and blossoms through a strainer, pressing on the blossoms to extract all of the liquid. Save the dandelion water and discard the used flowers. Strain the dandelion water through cheesecloth and put it in a pan. Add the lemon juice, sugar and pectin. Bring to rolling boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. At this point, it's optional to tint the jelly with yellow food coloring as desired. Pour into clean jelly jars and seal.

Dandelion Blossom Syrup

1 quart dandelion flowers
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cups sugar
½ lemon or orange (organic if possible) chopped, peel and all
Note: The citrus is optional, it will give the syrup an orangey or lemony flavor. If you want the pure dandelion flavor, you can skip the citrus. I make it both ways each year.

1. Put blossoms and water in a pot.
2. Bring just to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit overnight.
3. The next day, strain and press liquid out of spent flowers.
4. Add sugar and sliced citrus and heat slowly, stirring now and again, for several hours or until reduced to a thick, honey-like syrup.
5. Can in half-pint or 1 pint jars.
This recipe makes a little more than 1 pint
I am also hoping to make some Dandelion Sunshine Medicine too!!!

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