Let's start with usiing them as an edible plant. The only thing you need to be careful about with buying or growing calendula is to ensure it is Calendula and not Tagetes, which is an African Marigold and often is mixed up by buyers and sellers. Anything Calendula is okay unless it is even shown on the tag together with Tagetes, which is an oil with high levels of ketones. Signet Marigold and Pot Marigold are best in flavour for recipes. That said....because it would be bad if my blog hurt you!...you can use different parts of the flower for cooking. If you use the flower, be sure to either pick it just before using or keep in a vase until ready to trim up and use because the petals don't last very well after being plucked, even in the fridge. You can just pat any moisture out of the petals on paper towelling after rinsing. Petals are great in salads for colour and you can use in cookies or stir fries as well. Small leaves of the plant may be used like spinach and be boiled while fresh. Check out "The Atlantic - What's for Dinner" and find a few interesting ideas for using marigolds at your table!
As far as medicinal uses are concerned, marigolds have been used for centuries for skin problems like cracked skin and inflammations in the cream form. It can be used in the form of a tea for gastric problems with just 1 cup of boiled water poured on 2tsp of flowers. Infused oils can be used on broken capillaries or varicose veins.
To make an infused oil (which you would use to make a cream form as well) all you need to do is pick whole flower heads of Pot Marigolds and only use good parts...no eaten sections or brown bits. You won't be washing them, because that could cause a mold to form. Bruise the petals and break the flowers up lightly and then pack them tightly into a canning jar. Top up the jar with a light oil, such as grapeseed or safflower, (cold pressed) to the brim and place the jar in a sunny window for approx. 10-12 days. Strain this mixture through cheesecloth and save the oil. Pack new flowers all over again into the jar with the oil in it and top it up to the brim with fresh oil. Once again, strain after 10-12 days in the sunshine and pour into a coloured jar or bottle and label!
Medicinal and Beauty issues are closely related with Marigolds as you just learned with the calming bath aspect. The oil or cream, used daily, can also help to reduce scars. Due to the wonderful skin healing character of marigolds, it makes it a crossover cream or oil for skincare in general.
I just want to tell you how I use them in my garden. If you plant them around the outer edges of your veggie garden, they repel aphids from your plants and cabbage butterflies as well. This really does work!
If anyone has any other thoughts or ideas of uses for calendula please comment and let me know as well!
Start picking now!