Marigolds, a symbol of passion and creativity, are popular annuals around the world. I just learned that there are a bazillion varieties. Okay, not that many, but way more than the two or three that I knew.
These hardy and pretty plants work hard in the veggie garden, giving off a nice scent (to humans) that pests don’t like. So they’re great for edging beds and tucking in between rows of lettuce and other edibles we compete for with the local wildlife.
The most common varieties are available at your local nursery, but you can find seeds online (and at some nurseries). Plant according to directions. Marigolds can stand being crowded, and they look better in tight clumps.
Once they flower, remove the dead ones (called “deadhead” in the gardening world) to ensure more flowers. Let one or two flowers go to seed – they’ll come back again next year.
To get the most out of your marigolds, make sure to plant Calendula Officinalis (shown left). Use the flower petals in cooking quiches and making salads for a colorful and tasty impact.
PLUS, make an insecticide with the petals and leaves to repel aphids, tomato hornworms and other leaf eaters.
Here’s how: Mash 1 cup of marigold leaves and flowers. Mix with 1 pint of water. Let soak for 24 hours. Strain. Dilute further with 1 1/2 quarts of water then add 1/4 teaspoon of castille soap (this is important – castille soap is made with only vegetable oils instead of animal fats and you don’t want to attract meat-loving pests). Spray target areas.
Enjoy your marigolds – they’re good little garden helpers.