Picking Pot Marigolds – Calendula officinalis

Last year I bought a cheap packet of Marigold flowers from Aldi and thought I would give them a go for a splash of colour in our garden (we are very much foliage people)!  We have tried flowers before and failed due to the heat of the summers here, they just wilt and die no matter how much you water them.

We have now learned about the seasons here in the Algarve (finally) and that we have to sow the more fragile plants earlier in the year than it tells you on Gardener’s World!

Anyway, back to the point, the Marigolds were a success last year and have self-seeded, as promised, this year and already in flower.  I am deadheading them so I can dry the flower heads to make calendula tea.  I’ve also got a notion that I will make some sort of soothing lotion from them, but will have to obtain supplies first.

This promotes new flowers to grow too, so I have no doubts about cutting off a fresh flower head.  (Last year I left the petals to dry on the flowers and then picked them, but I have since learned that they are best picked when just fully open, according to the Frugally Sustainable blog.

I then spread the flowers out as full flower heads without removing the petals on a drying tray (aka a mesh barbeque grill) and put them, out of the sun, in a warm dry area.

Finger’s crossed they will dry well before the wet weather due at the end of the week.  Once they are dry, store them in an airtight container in a dark cupboard where they will keep for about 6 months.  However, my petals from last year still look and taste fine and it’s been way longer than 6 months since I harvested them.

Doing all this hard work (!) made me thirsty and I couldn’t have a drink without it being Calendula tea of course.  It tastes like a mild green tea (well mine does) and quite refreshing on a warm day if diluted with cool water.