Why I'm a fan of Calendula

It’s probably easier to write a post title “Reasons not to grow calendula”. It would be a very short post though, listing only two reasons I can think of: 
- You hate flowers
- You’re not planning on growing anything anyway

Other than that, there really is no reason not to grow those pretty little edible flowers. The official name is "Calendula Officinalis", and in some cases they’re called “Pot Marigolds”; not to be confounded with regular (French) Marigold (of the genus Tagetes), which is not edible. 

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Here’s why I love growing calendula everywhere I can:

  1. Calendula is very easy to grow. The first year we lived here I was a bit over ambitious, and bought dozens of different seeds… my calendula seeds were one of the few that actually led to something that spring. In summer, they died and disappeared (it was just to dry and hot), but suddenly in Autumn, there they were again! And they’ve been coming back ever since. Now I’ve sown them on several places on our land, and there’s little yellow flowers coming up at all times of the year (yes, even now at the end of the year, they’re blooming). 
  2. It’s easy to collect the seeds. Like, so simple it doesn’t actually need a tutorial - but I’m linking to one anyway: here’s how to harvest calendula seeds
  3. They grow everywhere. I have calendula in the veggie garden, on the almond fields, in containers outside and inside, and they are said to be good cutting flowers as well. 
  4. Calendula makes an excellent cover crop. I never thought of it this way, but my friend Kat at Kurkum Farm recently told me how she will grow a patch of calendula, and then just pull it out of the ground (which is quite easy) and leave them as mulch - they are a great tonic for the soil. 
  5. Calendula is pretty. The flowers (often yellow, but there are other colours as well) will give some extra colour to your border, herb garden or vegetable patch. 
  6. Calendula is a good companion plant. I like to plant it with my tomatoes and near broccoli. 
  7. Calendula is edible: the flowers are great in salads - they taste ok (they don't have much of a taste at all actually) and the bright yellow looks good in combination with the green of lettuce. Mother Earth Living has some great recipes, including calendula cornbread and egg salad with calendula and chives. 
  8. Calendula is an excellent medicinal plant: the oil is anti-inflammatory and calendula oil or salve is often used to soothe healing wounds or eczema. Even better, you can easily make calendula salve at home
  9. Calendula can be used as a dye. There might be more modern and efficient ways to dye stuff… but making your own natural dye is so much more fun! 

So, dear reader... Do you already have calendula in your garden, or will you start growing it this spring?