Large swathes of my upper pastures are carpeted with dandelions and I couldn’t be happier. It has been such a struggle to get this land fertile enough to grow anything. The soil has been too sour, with so little organic matter that it was compacted to a state only a couple of steps up from hardpan.
Five years ago it took me forever to set up a temporary sheep fence, as each post had to be laboriously pushed into the ground with all my weight. My belly was regularly dotted by small round purple bruises from the plastic post-tops. Putting up netting is not exactly a breeze, now, but I can set most posts by hand. After years of my spreading manure, the soil has slowly begun to soften and sweeten.
The dandelions are my helpers. I look out at the sea of yellow flowers and think of each sending down its long tap root deep into the rough, rocky ground. And then each plant dying and its root decaying to feed the microbes. (Microbes are what I’ve needed in my nearly lunar soil. After microbes come bugs and earthworms.)
Dandelions! I want to do a little tap dance.
Only about a quarter of my open seventeen acres will grow dandelions at this point. But that’s four more acres than would support them five years ago.