Sunday, May 11, 2014

An unconventional approach

Brian says he made a conscious decision, about three or four years back, to stop worrying about dandelions. It simply isn't possible, he concluded, to eliminate them entirely without resorting to noxious chemicals that will kill practically everything else in sight as well. Thus, our best option is to coexist with them, taking steps to beat them back only when they get too ugly.

What that means in practice is that most of the time, we simply ignore any dandelions that pop up in our yard (except for occasionally picking and eating them). About once a year, however, right around the beginning of May, the dandelions start to get a little too big for their britches. They spread all over the entire yard, both front and back, turning it into a sea first of innocent-looking yellow blooms and then, if we don't get out there and whack them immediately, of white puffballs—which quickly blow away, leaving behind the even worse-looking naked stalks.

This annual Peak Dandelion event, then is the point at which we intervene—not to actually remove the dandelions, which would be impossible, but just to clear them away so they don't make the yard look too much of a mess. And this year, Brian decided to take a rather unconventional approach to dealing with them. Since they'd already gone to seed, and going after them with the string trimmer would serve only to spread the seeds around, he decided to try tackling them first with a different electric tool: the stick vacuum.

As it turns out, this worked surprisingly well. He just plugged the vacuum into a big long extension cord and took it around the yard, snorking the little seeds right off the heads of the dandelions. Then, once he'd denuded them all, he replaced the stick vacuum with the string trimmer and whacked off the stems. The only problem, he says, is that the dirt cup on our vacuum can now be considered a WMD: a Weapon of Mass Dandelion. He'll probably have to put the entire thing inside a big garbage bag before opening it, lest the seeds all burst out of the cup the minute he removes it and go stampeding around the room in a frenzy, looking for a place to take root.

So if you, too, have decided to manage your dandelion problem rather than trying to cure it, and you happen to have a lightweight vacuum cleaner, I suggest you give this unconventional approach a try. Even if it doesn't work for you, it can't make the problem any worse, since let's face it, dandelions in May are as bad as it gets.

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