Marigolds with everything

00:10, May 09 2012

My friend Helen commented the other day on the post about garden myths that she's always practised companion planting, and had calendula, or pot marigolds, growing alongside her edibles. And though she's read books pooh-poohing the idea, she still does it anyway.

I, too, subscribe to the gardening philosophy of marigolds with everything. According to "the scent of marigolds deters cabbage maggots, Mexican bean beetles, aphids and many other pests, and calendula turns off tomato hornworms and asparagus beetles." I'm no scientist, and I couldn't tell if calendula make any difference to the ecosystem of my vege plots. I can say I've not had any aphids in my garden - I do get them on my houseplants though, which is gross - but that's hardly evidence.

But here's the thing; even if the whole companion-planting-with-marigolds is baloney, I would grow them anyway because they are in my opinion the sunniest, easiest, most cheerful flowers you'll find anywhere. They brighten up whatever corner they're in, and are so easy to grow you could have the blackest thumb in the land and they'll still thrive. If it sounds as though I'm describing a weed you'd quite possibly be correct - calendula are self seeders and once you have had some plants bloom, they'll lovingly share their seed with the rest of the garden. But I don't care, I think they are glorious. 

I've got two varieties in my garden, both from Kings Seeds; dwarf mixed and nova. I have them growing beside the vegetables and dotted around the ornamental gardens for easy colour. They've self-seeded and we're on to our third generation since my initial sowing last autumn.  

Besides adding colour year round and being easy to grow, calendula have other properties. I initially grew it to make nappy rash cream (which I still haven't done), as calendula is said to have skin soothing properties. I have a new niece/nephew on the way, so perhaps I should get my act into gear. I might try this recipe, which looks easy enough. 

And now the moment you've all been waiting for: winner of Decoding Garden Advice draw is #43 Hels. We'll be in touch soon with your prize. 

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