Saturday, June 1, 2013

Naturopathic Lawn Care

For many suburbanites, social pressure regarding those bright yellow flowers which relentlessly pop up in their yards drives people to spend a lot of time, effort and unfortunately resort to risky pollutants to eradicate them.

Recently, a salesperson from a popular "lawn care" company knocked on my door and informed me that there were some terrible plants growing in my yard and that he had the cure.  When I asked him to point out which plants he was referring to, he walked me over and pointed, "see this terrible broad leaf plant, we need to get rid of those."  "Taraxacum officinale" I asked?  "You mean Dandelions?"

Yes, it seems like Dandelions are the bane of some people's assistance!  And, the cure according to this salesperson was 2,4D (2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyactic acid) which he didn't know much about other than his company was 28 years old and they would not be able to sell anything that wasn't safe for the public - including his young daughter who he reportedly lets play on the lawn after applying 2,4D. 

Unfortunately, as with most lawn pesticides and herbicides, the track record for 2,4D is not so clear.  In addition to being a major ingredient in Agent Orange, there are several studies indicating cancer risk as well as ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

The Dandelion may be better utilized as a barometer for the internal health of your lawn.  When present, they indicate that your soil is not sick, you are not polluting the groundwater and it is safe to enjoy walking on and touching the grass.  Otherwise, artificial turf seems to become a better option than chemically induced fields of green.

Or, if you really detest the Dandelions, how about eating them?!  After all, they are a tremendously healthy vegetable.  The young leaves in the spring, included in a salad, are part of an excellent cleanse that I often recommend to my patients.  Less healthy, but more tasty, how about Dandelion syrup made from the flowers?

Here is a Recipe:

Start by washing 250grams to 280grams (about two heaped double handfuls) of Dandelion flowers and cut their base to help detach the yellow petals from the green leaves.

In a saucepan, cover the dandelion petals with water 1 Litre of water. Mix well until all petals are covered. Bring slowly to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let infuse in the fridge overnight.

The next day, filter the mixture using a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a pot – be sure to get as much of the liquid as possible.  Add 1kg of raw sugar into the liquid and place the pot on the stove without a lid to simmer on low heat.  Simmer until the liquid is slightly thinner than maple syrup at approximately 219 degrees Fahrenheit (which when cooled will be the same consistency as maple syrup).  Half a sliced lemon may be added when the liquid is nearing the desired consistency.

Remove from heat and store in a glass bottle until the next occasion for use.