Calendula in My Garden

by Cynthia

Calendula has been named the 2008 Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association and it is easy for me to see why. I absolutely love this easy to grow flower.

The calendula I planted from seed awhile back is really starting to put out some flowers now. Yeah! I wait all year for those flowers. I gather them and dry them to use throughout the year. They are yet another herb that can really self-sow but I don’t mind a bit. They are very much welcome in my garden. Not only are they useful but they are also so cheerful. Their orange and yellow flowers really pop. Below is a picture of some “popping” out of my catmint (which is a monster right now!). 

Calendula in my garden 

To Dry Calendula flowers

Freshly picked Calendula flowersMy method for drying calendula flowers is the same method I use for drying most of my herbs. I place them on a paper towel lined cookie sheet and then cover with another piece of paper towel. They are then placed in the oven with the oven light left on. The oven light supplies enough heat to dry the flowers nicely. Just don’t forget you have them in there and accidently turn the oven on!Dried Calendula flowers

There are so many things you can do with the calendula flowers. The petals can be used fresh or dried in cooking (be sure to remove the bitter center before adding to a dish). The dried petals can also add a bright splash of color to a bowl of potpourri. My absolute favorite item to make out of calendula flowers is an all purpose salve. It is fairly simple to make and is great for all kinds of skin ailments. I especially like it for a diaper rash treatment. It is also good on eczema. Plus it is really nice to put on your hands after a lot of time spent in the garden.

Recipe for Calendula Salve

Begin by placing some dried calendula flowers in a glass canning jar. Then fill the jar with olive oil or even almond oil. You want to make sure you completely cover the flowers. Place some plastic wrap over the top of the jar and then screw on the ring over the plastic wrap. Place the jar in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Leave the oil to infuse for one to three weeks. (Alternatively you could place the flowers and oil in a crock pot and gently warm for several hours.)

Once the oil is done infusing strain well and measure how much you have. Now place the oil in a double boiler and add ¼ cup (2 ounces) grated beeswax to every 1 cup (8 ounces) of oil. Gently warm the oil until all the beeswax has melted. Remove from the heat and pour into some sterilized containers. Once it cools it will become solid.

Use this salve on any type of skin irritation.

In the picture below I have a mix of calendula, chamomile, comfrey, and lavender infusing. I have been making this for so long now that I don’t bother to measure the herbs I use. I just add what I think looks good!

Herb infused olive oil

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