Spring is already upon us, the days are already longer, providing us with more energy, seeming to rise up from the ground under our very feet. I love this time of year, it feels like a time of pure joy, where each new life pops his head out of the ground to say hello! A step outside into the countryside refreshes and enlivens the spirit with the smell of life, growth and energy. Here in Andalucia, we have long hot and dry summers, so spring really does signify the need to spring into action, collecting herbs and flowers in their prime, as well getting out there on the land, putting hands into the earth, to sow what we hope to harvest in autumn.
Today I want to share with you a post about Calendula, as right now Calendula is growing everywhere around me, my walks accompanied by their yellow vibrant flowers have inspired me to share some of the things I love most about this plant as well as its uses... and a method of using their petals to create a wonderful medicinal oil for all the family.
Calendula is a diminutive derived from the Latin of calendae, meaning "little calendar as it thought to bloom on the calends or the beginning of each month. In English Calendula, is commonly referred to with its common name "marigold".As a bright yellow flower, its species have been used for many centuries from the Egyptians to Hindis as a culinary as well as a medicinal herb. Her petals are edible and can be used fresh sprinkled over salads or dried and used to colour foods and fabrics, it has been used traditionally as a replacement for saffron.
They are a beautiful flower, easy to grow and care for in your garden, the more flowering heads you pick, the more will grow back. It is a great companion plant for filling in between your veggies as it helps to repel aphids and pests, as well as attracting our friends the Bees to come, which in turn helps our plants to pollinate as well as enriching the local ecosystem :)
Calendula is well known for its properties to heal the skin and wounds, it is used in herbal medicine for cuts, burns, scratches and irritations etc. as well as for dry and sensitive skin conditions. Calendula can be incorporated into many different topical treatments such as washes, salves, poultices, steams, ointments, oils, as well as tinctures, syrups and teas as used in herbal medicine. This is a wonderful plant for using on sensitive skins and is found very often in baby care products due to its delicate and soothing action, healing the skin.
D.I.Y YOUR OWN!
To make an oil infused with the wonderful properties of Calendula is simple.
YOU WILL NEED
Dried organic Calendula flowers
A base oil of your choice - Organic Olive oil or Almond/Avocado are lovely too
Clean, dry glass jar
1. Place your Calendula flowers into the jar
2. Pour in your oil to cover the plant matter with at least 3cm in order to ensure the flowers are always submerged in the oil
3. Leave in a sunny spot and shake the jar at least once every day
4. After 4-6 weeks strain through a fine filter to remove any particles
5. Decant into dark glass bottles, label with all the information about the contents (Name, date, ingredients etc) and store in a cool and dark place.
The heated method allows us to speed up the process of infusing the oil, although it's important to note the temperature at all times. We don't want to overheat the oil, up to 80ºc although I generally keep mine around 60ºc.
This can be completed in 4-6 hours although I usually heat mine gently throughout a whole day, leave it overnight and repeat the process the next day. So it can take up to 48 hours or more if you choose so.
1. Use a glass bowl over a ban-marie or double boiler
2. Place your flowers in the bowl and cover at least 6cm with oil. If you would like to be more precise use a 10:1 ratio.
3. Heat gently for at least 4 hours and strain with a fine filter as with the folk method.
Keeping a jar of dried Calendula flowers is an invaluable addition to our natural first aid kit. A fantastic use is in a compress or poultice form. Perfect for irritations or rashes on the skin. As well as bites and stings.
1. Crush your plant matter in a bowl and add small amounts of warm water to create a paste.
2. Apply a thick layer over the affected area and cover with a muslin cloth or fine bandage for at least 30 mins
3. I like to use a heating pad or hot water bottle over the area.
4. Alternatively, cooling in the fridge freezer and applied to sunburnt skin can promote skin healing and reduce burning and inflammation.
"Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence."