Make room in the garden for the easy-to-grow Calendula
June has come and the 21st of this month will mark the beginning of the summer season in full-swing.
Those who have been planting and working in their garden or beds in May have noticed a cool and wet season. We actually had two frost nights after the usual “safe” date for planting in May. The wet weather is very welcome and many of the perennials coming back this year in our beds are showing their appreciation with healthy, vigorous growth and abundant buds and blooms on the flowering varieties. The cool, wet weather is also providing us with an extended period for sowing seeds and putting in transplants and, the garden centers are full of some very nice-looking, healthy flowers, foliage plants, shrubs and trees for the choosing.
Do you have room in your garden or beds for a re-seeding, easy-to-grow, edible, brightly-colored flower? If not, you may want to make room for this one. The Calendula or pot marigold is a great addition to any landscape. Calendulas range in color from deep, golden, orange to light, bright, yellow and they have an aromatic, spicy fragrance as well.
These cheerful flowers are easy-to-grow and, if given a sunny to part shade location, they will tolerate poor soil. Grown thickly, they can be used as a groundcover in places where other flowers will not grow.
Calendula petals are edible and will add a spicy, pungent flavor to salads or they can be used to flavor soups and stews. This same spicy pungency acts as a repellant to certain insects. Grown near the vegetable garden, pot marigold will repel tomato worms, asparagus beetles, and mosquitoes.
Pot marigold petals can be dried or frozen for later use. To dry them, just place the petals spread so as not to touch, on paper towels and allow them to dry. The dried petals can be stored in airtight containers. Dried petal can be mixed into potpourris, used to make tea, used in hair rinses, cream, salves and soaps, and used as a dye for fabrics. Calendula can also be used as a coloring agent in cheese.
In the fall, leave the seed heads and let the seeds fall to the ground. By spring, you will have new plants to enjoy. You may also want to try cutting the seed heads in the fall and burying them near and around your bulb beds. In the spring when the bulbs have stopped blooming, the calendula will be grown enough to cover the dead foliage of the bulbs.
What a great plant – any gardener could grow, enjoy and use this one.
June garden tips: Stake plants that will grow tall as the season progresses and will need the extra support;
• Add extra mulch to perennial and vegetable beds, transplants and young plants to keep roots moist and cool
• Finish planting tender transplants such as coleus, tomatoes, pumpkins, and begonias.