Calendulas not only brighten up the winter garden, they have known health benefits and the edible flowers make any dish stunning. This guide shows how to grow and use calendula.
How to Grow Calendula
Calendulas like full sun and will tolerate most soil types and frost. They are native to countries bordering the Mediterranean but will grow in most temperate parts of the world. Plant seeds in late summer and autumn for winter flowers.
Calendula is easy to grow from seed. Use seed growing mix or make your own (see this guide on how to make seed raising mix). Plant twice as deep as the height of the seed then keep moist.
Transplant to final position when seedlings have at least their second leaves then protect from snails. They make a stunning border in front of roses or other established bushes. Apply liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks for optimal results.
Collect the seeds when the flower petals dry for use next season. Store in an airtight container.
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Medical Benefits of Calendula
First, an important warning: Calendulas are known to bring on menstruation so it is not advisable for pregnant women or anyone on medication to consume calendulas without medical advice.
However, they are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and have been used in lotions to sooth irritated or cracked skin and to ease sunburn.
Calendulas have been used in the past to induce menstruation, encourage sweating to break fever and as a treatment for jaundice and pink eye. The leaves have been used to treat burns and wounds, there are even recorded instances of it being used on the battlefield.
The essential oil is thought by some to be an effective antifungal remedy.
How to Eat and Drink Calendula
Calendula leaves were used in the past, however it is now recommended to only consume the petals. It was popular in the middle ages to garnish and flavour food. It is also called the poor man’s saffron as it was used as a cheap alternative.
Dry flower petals then add to boiling water. Let 2 tablespoons steep until cool enough to drink then remove the petals.
Make tea with fresh flower petals by filling a cup with fresh petals then pouring boiling water over the top. Let steep then put through a sieve before serving.
Consume calendula tea to aid the liver and stomach ulcers, gargle to treat mouth and gum inflammation or apply to a cloth to treat skin conditions.
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Add washed petals to your salad for a bright display. To me, the petals don’t really have much of a taste, but they do bring a wow factor to the dish.
- 1 Garlic Clove minced or finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. White wine vinegar, cider vinegar or even better – white wine
- 2 Tbsp. Whole egg mayonnaise
Mix all three ingredients together for a simple but flavourful dressing.
Dried calendula petals can be added to soups and stews. They add a saffron like colour to the dish or just use as a garnish to impress your guests.
To save or print this guide on how to grow and use Calendula, here is the PDF Version
Do you have mint growing in your garden? See this guide: How to grow and use mint
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