The Magic of Marigolds
Most folks know of the Marigold, many look at it as a filler for their flower garden, doesn’t smell very good, if at all, but it is colorful so I’ll use it here or there to fill in the gaps. They are a mainstay of gardeners everywhere.
Well I’m here to tell you that little flower has more uses than you may know.
Marigolds are super easy to grow, have a long growing season, brings beneficial insects to your gardens in droves, and most of all it has pest deterrent properties second to none.
Many confuse the Marigold with the Calendula Sometimes called Pot Marigold or Field Marigold. They look alike but are not the same species.
Basically there are 3 varieties of Marigold, American (Tagetes erecta) and French (Tagetes patula) and a related species called signet Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia) which are much smaller plants, and grow many smaller flowers. They are a truly double floret, in Yellow, Orange, and Red. American Marigold are usually taller and can reach heights of 36 inches with larger flowers. French Marigolds are usually smaller, but have smaller, more tightly packed flowers. Triploids are a cross between the two, they have shorter stems but larger flowers. Marigolds can come in Flat petaled (single or double) or Crested (fully double) You do not need to deadhead Marigolds.
Marigolds grow best in full sun, with moist well drained soil, although they will tolerate some drier conditions. Plant them outdoors as soon as all danger from frost is past. Space them from 6 to 18 inches apart, depending on variety. You can sow the seeds directly or start 4 to 5 weeks earlier indoors. Seeds are easy to save from last season (just pull them outward from the dried flower and put them in an envelope until next year) and will germinate in 5-7 days at 65-70 degrees.
The best uses (in this gardeners opinion) are for pest deterrent, they will keep almost any pest from devouring your garden including mammal and insect, Deer do not like them at all and will actually avoid eating a favorite flower planted next to marigolds, they can keep , thrips, whiteflies, slugs, snails, and aphids at bay as well as cucumber and squash bugs. Marigolds do attract honeybees for pollination and many parasitic wasps as well.
Use them in your vegetable garden as border plants or interspersed within the plants themselves, and you will be amazed at the reduction in many of the bad bugs that may have plagued you in the past.
You can take the leaves and steep them in boiling water and make an organic pesticide with them. Simply cut the leaves as finely as possible prior to steeping , strain the bits and use the water in a spray bottle. Sometimes we boil the liquid down a bit to make it more concentrated. No more need for soaps and oils which could burn your plants, we rarely have a problem with this formula. Always wash your veggies though, if you use Any pesticide. (organic or otherwise)
This pest deterrent, sun friendly, colorful plant truly is the magic of the Marigold. Use them as much as possible in all your flower and vegetable gardens.
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Peace and Prosperity,
Rich @ NY Homesteader