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dandelions in Europe

 
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I live in Texas but I am very interested in Dandelions as a food crop.Does anyone know anything about the variety I would want to grow?I read about how dandelions were extensively grown in Germany in WW2 and fed to prisoners for food.What variety am I looking for?
 
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a lot of the ‘dandelion’ leaf grown for human consumption are actually a kind of chicory. dunno if that’s what was grown in germany, as ‘fed to prisoners’ sounds like a lot more bulk than leaf crops.
 
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I did some research after reading this question. I found: no, dandelions weren't grown for food, but it was adviced to forage and eat them for the vitamins. In the last year of WW2 and the first year(s) after there was a lack of good healthy food. So foraging was really needed.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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If you want to grow dandelions for food you can just grow the ordinary species Taraxacum officinale.
To get the best tasting result you'll have to cover the growing young plants (with a little layer of soil) so the leaves won't become green. Harvest the 'white' leaves.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:If you want to grow dandelions for food you can just grow the ordinary species Taraxacum officinale.


I live in an area with lots of people of Italian ancestry and we get these nice eating dandelions- they don't put out flowers as easily as "yard dandelions" and there are some pretty variations with red veining, for example. Like this beauty from Baker Creek.
 
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Most of what you see called dandelion for sale isn't, that lovely red plant is not even in the same family it's a chicory. culinary speaking they are about the same but chicory is in my experience much harder to grow. There were some breeding programs in the second world war for dandelions but that was to make rubber from the latex in the roots. Just take some common dandelion and put it in rich soil you'll soon get a monster plant over a foot across and tall with a root over 2 inches thick. Like any plant they respond very well to care and attention. It used to be common to cut all the leaves off and then put a plant pot over the plant with the holes covered. then the plant regrows white and non bitter leaves. (just like one does with chicory!)
 
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Skandi is right, the plants you sometimes see in markets called dandelion are actually chicoree - I just consulted my go-to book on winter veggies (by Wolfgang Palme, the Austrian equivalent to Eliot Coleman).
He gives two varieties that will grow successfully, Cicoria Catalogna - cichorium intybus var. foliosum, and those with purple veins of the same variety. On italian markets (not that I visit them, but that is what he writes) they are called Zuccherina di Trieste, A Grumolo verde, Spadona da Taglio, Biondissima di Trieste or simply Rossa Italiana, or in Rome, Puntarelle, or according to the region also Di Galatina or Brindisina.

I will try to post the pics from my smartphone.
Looks like a nice, uncomplicated crop.
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Endive, chicory and dandelion, they are all in the same family: Asteraceae
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