Sowing time April – May
Daisy-like flowerheads in a vivid shade of orange, create a wonderful display when they appear in profusion above the softly hairy, aromatic leaves. This fast-growing annual, is ideal for the filling gaps in the border and the flowers last well after being cut. The petals are edible and have a peppery flavour, which can be used to enhance the flavour and add colour to soups, meat, egg and rice dishes as well as salads. Easy and quick to grow, it is a great choice for a children’s garden.
Properties associated with Calendula as a medicinal herb include:
Selecting a growing container:
- Homemade container such as a folded cardboard (toilet roll) tube for single seeds
- 9cm pot or similar for 3 seeds
- Choose a seed tray or module for larger quantities
- Use a larger tub to make up the seed mix
A good free draining soil is best for seed sowing to avoid seeds sitting in water for too long and rotting. The medium shouldn’t be too rich either as this can burn the seeds before they get going.
Depending on what you have available a good seed sowing mix can be made up of slightly different ingredients.
I used two parts seed sowing compost with pearlite within the mix to one-part vermiculite. Pearlite aerates and ensures good drainage and the vermiculite will add a bit of a nutrient balance.
A homemade alternative would be a 2 thirds leaf mould a one third sand mix.
This marigold (Calendula) seedhead was saved at the end of last summer. It was dried and stored in a paper envelope so as to avoid moisture build up and rotting that can occur in a plastic bag that isn’t vacuum sealed. Marigold seeds themselves are a lovely curled caterpillar type shape that is easily picked apart and spread out on a sheet of paper to enable you to see them!
Plant the seeds around 1.5cm deep, either poke small divets in individual pots or shallow drills in seed trays shown here. Drills should be about 5cm apart. Once seedlings emerge they can be lifted and planted out into a sunny spot free draining soil at around 20 cm spacing.
I sometimes add a sprinkle of horticultural grit on top to keep pots from drying out.
When the plants are in bloom they will benefit from frequent dead heading to allow the flowering season to continue long into the summer.