new spiritual practice

MY NEW SPIRITUAL PRACTICE is a moving meditation aimed at dandelions, a ritual that brings me into touch with my own powerlessness, and also my own power. Want to meditate with me?

It’s a three-step program (not twelve, thank you very much) and all are welcome. Required gear: a half-moon edger, or small spade, to cut into the ground very close to the offending crown of Taraxacum officinale; your foot (which I assume is always at the ready), and a tip bag or bucket or wheelbarrow to collect all the bodies in.

Simply step firmly on the edger or spade an inch or less from the center of the plant. With the blade inserted deeply (as dandelions have long tap roots), rock the tool back and forth to expose the plant, then bend down and remove the root by firmly grasping and wiggling it loose from the wedge of soil with your fingers. I like to wear vinyl surgical gloves for tasks like this, and to spare my knees dozens of up-and-down’s per meditation session I perform Step 1 on a number of clumps, then bend to the task of Step 2 all at once. Perhaps you are able to genuflect more times daily, but I am pacing myself these days.

This works best after a nice rain, and maintaining a devoted practice (at least in the areas of the garden nearest to the house) means I am not overrun…though I use no lawn chemicals. Sound like too much work? Then please as a minimum mow your dandelions before they go to seed. I don’t need any more of them drifting on the wind over to my place. One can only meditate so much.

  1. gina says:

    I’d like to volunteer to host on-the-job training for this technique at my house. I’ve got tons of these things for your students to practice on!

  2. margaret says:

    Thanks, Gina….I will send the devotees over (after they are done here, which will be in about 30 years).
    Welcome, Dan; nice to “see” you. Yes, we are all pieces of the same puzzle, hoping to get another season on earth, aren’t we? Love your take.

  3. Dan in Hudson says:

    I can’t help grinning during my springtime dandelion ritual. Although removing that looong root remains my ultimate goal, there’s a very satisfying and audible “snap” if I fail. That satisfying “snap” keeps me grinning, knowing that, like the dandelions, I’ll be back.

  4. leslie land says:

    Hi there Meditator,

    Hope you’ve recovered from Trade Secrets ( what a lot of work!), and many thanks for the tip. It sounds like a great technique that would also work on the cursed burdock.

    Which is where it will get used here, because what we do about dandelions in the lawn is nothing – except mow, I hasten to add.

    Of course the result is that your lawn is orders of magnitude more beautiful than ours ( believe me folks; I’ve seen it), but having a green carpet dotted with flowers, white and purple as well as yellow, does free up time – and knees! – for the seventy gazillion other chores that keep spring so interesting.

  5. Kitt says:

    I was very happy to get a new dandelion digger recently (the old one started bending like a cheap spoon). Until I discovered yesterday that I’d punctured one of my irrigation lines with it.


  6. margaret says:

    Welcome, Kitt. So you agree with me: The dandelion meditation can help us experience our powerlessness (and waterlessness). ;-)
    @Leslie: Still not 100 percent after that day of plant-selling Saturday. Wow…good things I’m not in retail except as the occasional volunteer!

  7. Andrew Ritchie says:

    On her show last week, Martha actually suggested simply learning to enjoy those little yellow afros in your lawn. (Yellow afros is my term, not hers.) Use them in salads, she says.

    I do think there is a time and place for dandelions. Their outright extermination is futile. But the cut-before-seed rule is a basic courtesy all should abide by.

  8. leslie land says:

    Thanks for the link to the TS report. It was fun to relive the experience – fun for me, anyway, since all I did was (try not to) shop, where you… words fail. May you be back at full strength by the time you read this!.

  9. margaret says:

    A stalker…the much-feared Teresa Ann! I do need to get chickens…they would have the best-looking egg yolks ever with all the yellow flowers I could offer them from my meditation practice.

  10. teresa ann says:

    I am hunting you down through your blog! I too am a dandelion hunter – my Dad taught me at a very young age. Now I am obsessed with the little buggers- every time I go to the farm I scour the property (and them feed them to the chickens!). Still using my Kmart tools we developed so many years ago (the dark years!).
    call me!

  11. Photo Buffet says:

    This ought to be required reading!
    Yesterday at my photoblog, I featured closeups of two dandelions. (No neighbors were harmed in the creation of the images.)

  12. Linda says:

    I have a major snail infestation, in fact, all of my area of Provence is covered with white snails. I just can’t sit and watch them get on plants I’ve planted myself although my husband thinks that they are just a part of nature and that I’m fighting a loosing battle. I have made myself ignore large areas of weeds and natural plants but I can’t bear to see the head of a lavender drooping under the weight of a snail so I am out every morning with a sack, picking them off. I’m sure my neighbors think I am crazy.

  13. margaret says:

    Welcome, Linda, to A Way to Garden. Snails…yikes! So they have turned you into the snail-gatherer, it seems. I think I’d be doing the same thing, truth be told, trying to stay one step ahead. Visit us soon again!

  14. Deirdre says:

    I use an old dandelion tool from my parents’ day that looks like an ergonomic screw driver. The dandelions do just pop out after a rain. Since I’ve been doing this over the last five springs, very few appear these days. With the combination of popping them out, pulling off the seed heads if time is an issue, and keeping my grass mowed very high to shade out the weeds, they generally only appear in the areas of really poor or compacted soil.

  15. TC says:

    My dandelions must have the longest tap roots known to their species. I’ve tried most methods of pulling, including the one you just mentioned, to no avail. Out of every thousand or so, one or two might easily be pulled without their tap root breaking. Oh well.

  16. BeBe says:

    Hi Margaret, There is so much chickweed in my lawn this year, along with clover and moss and a few dandelions here and there. I actually love the moss even though it does eventually kill the grass – after all, the Japanese culitvate it! Anyway, I notice you do not put any chemicals on your lawn and was wondering if that included lime as well? I understand how important ph is to healthy grass and with so many pines my now ex husband insisted on spreading lime.
    I am interested in what you think? Thanks.

    1. margaret says:

      Here, too, BeBe. And yes, I do use lime — in fact, I need to lime again now. It has been so dry I kept waiting for rain but alas, none!

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