Some people regard the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) as an invasive weed that takes over lawns and flower beds every spring. While in many cases this is true, dandelions can also be planted as a food source. Dandelion greens are high in Vitamins A, K and C and also contain a significant amount of fiber and iron. Dandelions can make a valuable addition to the home herb or vegetable garden, and they can be grown outdoors in zones 3-10! Grow and water as you would most other greens.
The Tortoise Table gives dandelion the green light, as part of a balanced plant diet.
Prepare the seedbed for your dandelions by adding compost or an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer to the soil. Though dandelions tend to grow well in even low-quality soil, they respond best to fertile soil. Sow your dandelion seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in your seedbed in mid- to late spring, spacing the seeds 2 to 3 inches apart. Dandelion seeds require a great deal of light to germinate, so do not cover the seeds with soil. Water your dandelion seeds lightly, keeping the top inch of soil moist but not wet. Dandelions grow quickly when well-watered, so it is best to control the amount of water your dandelions get so they do not grow out of control. Thin out the seedlings after they grow their first pair of true leaves. Pinch off the smaller specimens and keep enough of the larger seedlings that they are spaced between 10 and 12 inches apart. Allow your dandelions to grow for several weeks until they begin to produce broad green leaves. The leaves of your dandelion plants may vary in appearance according to the cultivar you are using. Harvest your dandelion leaves in the late summer or fall by cutting the leaves off just below the crown with a sharp knife. The leaves should be harvested when they are less than 10 inches long before the plant flowers, or they will become bitter in taste.