Author Topic: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution  (Read 3346 times)

somecobwebs

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Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« on: August 23, 2015, 01:36:47 AM »
I live in an urban area with a lot of traffic, and I've read that you should avoid foraging plants (in my case, dandelions), from the sides of roads because they absorb pollution. Fair enough! However, is that just for the leaves and roots, or will roadside pollution also affect the seeds?

The reason I ask is that I have a nice little backyard, closed off from all the roads with no pesticides, and I would love to grow dandelion greens back there for me to pick for salads and smoothies. However, that means that I need some starter seeds! If I plant seeds from a roadside dandelion, will the resulting greens be safe to eat? If anyone has links or references, that would be much appreciated.

Stache-O-Lantern

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2015, 01:58:51 AM »
A lot of transportation departments spray herbicide along road edges, if you gathered greens after they sprayed but before the plant died you might not notice.  In my experience this has only been within a few feet of the road though.

Collecting seed from roadside plants and then growing at home would not transfer any pollutants.

worms

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2015, 03:09:46 AM »
I get it that people like dandelions and forage for them...Free food from weeds is great.  But I don't see the point in planting them.  If you want to grow stuff to eat, there are much more productive things that you could grow in your backyard.

MrsPete

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2015, 12:31:37 PM »
I agree with worms.  The best plant choices are things that are easy to grow, taste good, and are expensive to buy at the store. 

For example, blueberries are a great choice to plant (though you're not going to get a blueberry seed for free).  Once you've planted the bush, it essentially takes care of itself.  You just need to cover the bush with a net just before the berries are ripe, or the birds will eat your harvest.  They taste delicious, are easy to freeze, and they're super healthy for you.  Plus, they're about $3 for a tiny tub at the grocery store, so your savings can be great.

On the other hand, potatoes are also easy to plant (you just need a plastic tub full of old leaves), but they're not going to be nearly as profitable for you:  While they're filling, they don't bring a whole lot of nutrition to the table.  And you can buy a big 5-lb bag for $2 or so; thus, your savings are minimal.

Dandelions?  I wouldn't bother.  How many would you need to make a salad? 

Rezdent

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2015, 01:42:09 PM »
As Stache-O-Lantern posted, the seeds should be fine as long as they are alive.
I tried this once.
My problem with dandelions was that there is another "weed" in my area that looks very similar, and I can't tell them apart until they are much bigger.  Tended them lovingly for weeks only to find them sporting some pink flowers, no dandelion to be found.  Don't know what they are but happy I didn't eat them.
I had better luck buying a pack of Italian dandelion seeds and planting them instead.  They were much larger seedlings, and it was easier to tell them from the other stuff.
I hope you try it and post a successful update.

Edit: fixed misspellings

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2015, 04:17:32 PM »
Pesticides aren't really the issue with roadside collection, particularly with dandelions. What you should really be concerned about, as dandelion is a dynamic accumulator of minerals, is heavy metal toxicity from lead (pre-1980s gas) and cadmium (tires) among other things.

While it's impossible to know without an environmental soil test, I've read about farms with as much as a 200' no-grow zone bordering high traffic roads because the heavy metals from tire debris and exhaust had travelled that far beyond the roadbed.

But to the OP's question, assuming her own soil is not contaminated, it will be fine. Cultivated dandelions should really be an oxymoron in my book, but *shrugs*.

somecobwebs

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2015, 04:55:21 PM »
Thanks for all the responses! I will try scattering some seeds in my backyard and hope that they take.

For the people wondering why I want to bother growing dandelions at all - it seems from my research that they are extremely low-maintenance plants that essentially grow themselves (hence why they're considered weeds), resprout after being picked (as long as you don't pull up the roots), grow year-round, and have many health benefits. The fact that you can also eat the flowers and roots is an additional advantage!

 I like the idea of having a backyard brimming with dandelions without having to do much other than provide the initial seeds, since I'm not much of a gardener. I already have a bunch of fruit trees on the property (and yes, blueberries as well) but I have nothing that would work well in salads. We use a ton of arugula, so I thought we could substitute in dandelion leaves periodically.

worms

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2015, 12:06:51 AM »
Arugula is so easy to grow as a perennial that if you use a lot of it it would be well worth the initial hassle of planting it.  No more hassle than dandelions.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Dandelion Foraging and Roadside Pollution
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2015, 12:25:32 AM »
You better like eating them because as the seeds grow on the wind they will spread to cover your entire garden. Unless you cut every flower before it seeds, and then they're not so low maintenance. Then you'll try and pull some that are in the wrong place and find they have foot- long roots that snap off so you can't get them all up and they re grow . #justsaying.