Let’s Root for Roots!

Grab your trowel, and your dog. Digging is always more fun with company!

Autumn time is root time. At this time of year, all the “growing” energy of plants dips down deep into the roots, where the glowing energy of the core of the Earth is known and cherished by the soil and the roots she enfolds.

After the first frosts, root vegetables become sweeter. So, this is the time of year when I go digging for dandelion roots and dock. On a fine sunny day, there is such joy in plowing your hands deep into the dirt to loosen these nutritious, looooooong roots that are so deeply nourishing to our systems.

Dandelions and dock roots are cleansers and tonics of the liver, spleen, and kidneys. They are nature’s gift to us at the closing of the year—medicine for us to drink all winter, toning and healing our innards.

Here is a link to the many wonders of dandelion roots: …

The benefits of drinking “dandy decoction” may even include cancer prevention and cure!

Oooh, isn’t this a beauty! All clean and ready to grind!

This lowly “weed” was actually brought here to America intentionally, as it was part of the early settlers medicine chests. All parts of the plant are edible: flowers, leaves, and roots. The leaves are best in early spring in salads and their bitterness stimulates the appetite.

But here in autumn, we’re mainly interested in the roots. To gather them, I bring along a bucket of water, a trowel and weed digger, and a shovel if I really want to get some exercise. I dig all around the plant, loosening up the roots. Then, I push my hands deep into the soil, grab the root, and very gently tug. If you go slowing, and tell the plant of your intentions, she may let go easily, and the root will rise into your hands in all its hairy, dangly splendor. Sometimes, it will break off short of the full root, but this is fine because you are leaving enough root so that the dandelion may return in the spring.

I rinse the roots many times, after I’ve clipped off the leaf heads. Then I brush them clean under running water using a stiff toothbrush. Once cleaned up, I pull out our ancient Kitchen Aid, and affix the smallest grinding head.

A bucket of roots, and ready to clean!

Root by root we go, until all the roots are ground up. If you hold a handful up to your nose, you will be greeted by the sweetest of scents, as though all of summer sank down into the ground and gathered her goodness in these tangly dark masses of root.

Then, I put the ground roots on a cookie sheet into my oven, which has a pilot light. That small heat is just enough to dry them after a couple of days. Once dry, they go into a jar by the stove, and I can make up batches of tea with them. The roots must be boiled—a technique called “decoction.” The roots won’t give up their blessings by just steeping in hot water. They need a good 15 minute boil, as you would with Chinese herbs. I used a teaspoon of dried root to a cup of water. Once the decoction has boiled, I let it continue to brew for a bit.

Grinding them up is easy if you have a machine like mine. If not, you can simply cut them into 1/4-inch rounds with a sharp knife.

The tea is mild and so welcomed by my body! Now, I know you can just go to the store and buy dandelion root tea, but it is so much more fun to dig your own! And so much less expensive! Let this become your new fall ritual: root around in your yard, and bring home the healing!

Here they are, all dried and ready to store in a jar.

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