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Calendulas taste as good as they look

The hard-working calendula attracts good bugs. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

This edible flower does a lot in the veggie garden

Some flowers do double duty in the vegetable garden. Besides attracting beneficial insects, they’re edible, too.

Calendulas are a beautiful example. Known in Europe as “pot marigolds,” calendulas are at the peak of bloom in April and early May. (What we call marigolds – species of Tagetes – are distant cousins in the aster family.)
Calendulas are pretty in a vase or on a

Calendulas’ bright yellow or orange blooms make a cheerful and attractive border around beds of green leafy vegetables. They don’t just look good; they bring in the good guys to help protect your garden from pests.

Their nectar feeds such pollinators as bees and butterflies, but the daisylike flowers also attract lady beetles, lacewings, hoverflies and other insects that help control aphids, thrips and more destructive pests.

The colorful petals add a bright note to any salad. They taste similar to arugula, slightly spicy with a little earthiness. They also can be used as decoration atop cakes and desserts or as a garnish for savory dishes and soup. Dried, the petals may be added to tea blends.

Medicinally, calendula is credited with a wide range of benefits, mostly to promote healing of sores and wounds. The ancient Greeks and Romans used native calendulas as medicinal herbs.

Best of all: Calendulas are very easy to grow. Maybe too easy; they self-sow year after year. Once established, this annual will be back again and again.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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