I try to tuck a few calendula plants in the garden every year. It is a rather prolific plant that produces amazing resinous flowers that hold a number of uses.

Calendula has a long history as a medicinal plant. The flower has been used to prevent muscle spasms, gastrointestinal problems and is even used to treat bee stings . It can be applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling which is why some people use it as an alternative cure for diaper rash. It can also be made into a healing salve which is how I first became aware of the plant. My wife dried the flowers in our first garden and used them in the bath water. It has a hydrating effect on ones skin.

It has also long been used as a culinary plant. The petals are edible and it has been used to color cheese and butter and even as a replacement for saffron in some dishes. You can use the flowers in salads, soups and rice dishes as a garnish to add flavor and coloring.

An interesting historical note on this flower is that it used to be made into garlands and worn in ceremonies by the early Catholics in some countries thus gaining the nickname, "Mary's Gold". It is also a flower that has been used to decorate the statues of Hindu deities for some time.

The calendula plant is also a great natural remedy for insects in the garden. By planting it along the border of your garden it provides protection against crop damage and its roots are believed to repel nematodes.

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


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