Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Calendula harvest

This seems to be an abundant flower year.  I have never had such a bountiful crop of calendula blossoms, that we keep harvesting over and over, and they just keep on blooming.  And what a good thing to have so much, since I never seem to have enough calendula for all the winter months where we use it in salves, soaps and tea.  If I was to pick a list of top ten valuable medicinal herbs to grow in a home garden, calendula would be at the top of the list (right next to lavender, peppermint, red clover, plantain, comfrey - oh, it's so hard to choose!)  Did I mention, the bees love calendula too? 

To harvest and dry calendula - pick flowers fresh on a sunny day when they are fully opened, after the morning dew has evaporated but before flowers are wilted by the heat of mid-day.  To harvest continuously keep picking fresh flower heads before they start to form seed heads, and your plants will continue to blossom.  I like to let some calendula go to seed early on in the season so that I ensure a good supply of seeds to self-seed in the garden when they fall, and also to harvest and keep for next year's planting.  Dry calendula on open screens or in wicker baskets, with good air circulation but out of direct light.  They should be fully dried before storing, and can be stored in clean dry glass mason jars with tight-fitting lids, kept in a dark dry cupboard. 

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