“Those who eat marigolds will see faeries, be more amorous and be induced to sleep” Anonymous
I don’t know how true that quote is, but one of the joys of the winter garden is definitely Pot Marigold (Calendula officianalis). Along with the cheerful orange flowers, you get a treatment for cracked and dry winter skin and a remedy for fungal infections, eczema, gum inflammations, a menstrual regulator, a lymphatic cleanser and a digestive tonic.
It grows easily from seed and then will continually re-seed itself. Although it is a winter herb, some plants will grow through the summer. The flowers tend to be smaller and a poorer quality, so I usually dig the plants up at the end of winter.
The flowers should be picked often to encourage the plant to produce more. Lay them out on trays or baskets to dry. A bay leaf in the pot of dried petals will discourage the small brown beetles that seem to eat them.
Calendula Skin Salve is an essential item for your first aid box to sort out rashes, bites, eczema, sores and scratches. Make a tisane with a teaspoon of dried flowers in one cup of boiling water to aid digestion, help regulate menstrual cycles and promote bile flow.
I don’t find it gives much flavour in cooking, but it does give a lovely colour so add it to rice and cakes.