Dandelion tea | A plant-based spray used in organic and Biodynamic farming, gardening and wine-growing to prevent downy mildew (peronospera). Dandelion roots are used in remedies to treat humans, notably to relieve skin ailments. For vines and other crops however the flower heads are used to make the tea. These are picked in the same way as for the Dandelion Biodynamic compost preparation 506, one of nine preparations used in Biodynamics.
Why used | Dandelion contains many nutrients including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and silicon. As a spray it concentrates and improves flavours in crops. It is recommended as a preventative spray at the start of the vine’s vegetative cycle, stimulating plant growth, especially really early on when the first two or three leaves have appeared, but before flowering, and so before the first spraying of Horn Silica 501 of the year. Dandelion’s silica is especially useful in strengthening and tightening vine leaves against fungal parasites, making them stronger, more disease resistant, more efficient trappers of solar heat and light. This especially helpful in wet years and when full Moon and lunar perigee coincide (Maria Thun: 2003, p.175). Christian Leperchois of Domaine des Carabiniers in the southern Rhône (Lirac, Tavel) told me how Pierre Masson explained to him dandelion tea’s healing effect regarding downy mildew (peronospera).
How made | For one hectare infuse 10 grammes (a handful) of dandelion flowers in 3.5 litres of boiled water for 5-20 minutes, filtering off the concentrate and diluting this in 35 litres of water (Pierre Masson, 1998: p.28).
How used | Dandelion can be sprayed on the crop itself but also on the surrounding soils, ideally during the period of the ascending moon. Maria Thun (2003, p.175) suggested wine-growers spray dandelion tea on the vines and vine leaves early in the morning during sidereal flower/air-light periods (moon in front of Gemini, Libra or Aquarius). Her view was dandelion ‘enhances the silica process in the leaves [strengthening and tightening them] and prevents [fungal] parasites from penetrating them. Above all this is of importance in rainy years, and years when the full Moon and perigee are occuring nearly at the same time,’ (Thun: 2003, p.175). Dandelion tea can be used alone or combined with small quantities of copper-based or sulfur-based sprays in spring (Pierre Masson: 2014, p.130). Yarrow, dandelion and stinging nettle teas are all recommended for cereal crops (Pierre Masson, 1998).
Other names | ‘la tisane de pissenlit’ (France).
Maria Thun., Results from the Sowing and Planting Calendar (Floris, 2003) trans. by G. Staudenmaier, p.175.
Monty Waldin., Biodynamic Gardening (Dorling Kindersley, 2015).
Monty Waldin., Biodynamic Wine (Infinite Ideas, 2016).
Pierre Masson,. A Biodynamic Manual, (2nd edition 2014, Floris), p.130.
Pierre Masson., Guide pratique de la Bio-Dynamie à l’usage des agriculteurs (France, 1998).