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Calendula – Why & How to Grow it!

calendula

Learn how & why you should grow Calendula in your garden. We offer FREE Calendula Seeds, so you can grow your own and reap the benefits!

Why Grow Calendula

Bright yellow and orange flowers, historically used for medicinal and culinary purposes, come from easy calendula care when growing this simple flower. Commonly called the pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), the calendula flower has long been a staple in British cottage gardens.

Petals are used in cooking, and were used as yellow coloring in cheeses and butters in centuries past. When used in stews, broths and salads, these petals add a spicy taste similar to saffron to many dishes. All parts of calendula plants are useful in many ways. The plant is said to stimulate the immune system and is currently used as an ingredient in many cosmetics.

Flowers and leaves of the calendula may be dried and stored for later use. In the vegetable garden, calendula draws aphids away from valuable plants. While uses of calendula plants are diverse, growing calendula in the flower or herb garden is an optimum use of this attractive plant.

Calendula plants are frost tolerant and somewhat cold hardy and add long-lasting color and beauty in a flower bed or container.

Planting Calendula

Calendula is easy to grow from seeds directly sown in the garden or containers. Plant seeds in early spring and repot or transplant sturdy seedlings after the threat of frost. Calendula will tolerate poor conditions but grows best when it has rich soil. Once established, it doesn’t need much water or fertilizer to grow. Calendula is a full sun plant, however, it’s not a fan of sweltering hot temperatures and might start wilting in intense heat.

Calendula has no serious insect or disease problems. They can sometimes be susceptible to powdery mildew (remedied by good air circulation), and slugs and snails may feed on them, especially young plants. Keep ground areas clear of debris to minimize slug and snail damage. Aphids and whiteflies can sometimes be a problem; spraying with water or treating with insecticidal soaps can control these pests.

Light

Calendula generally prefers full sun, but it sometimes languishes during the hottest months unless it receives some afternoon shade in hotter areas.

Soil

Like most members of the daisy family, calendula needs a well-drained soil high in organic material. Dense, wet soils can cause the roots to rot. This plant tolerates a wide range of soil pH but prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil.

Water

Water frequently until the plants are established. Mature plants thrive on only occasional watering. Avoid too much water with these plants.

Temperature and Humidity

Calendula prefers mild summer temperatures and may die away by the end of summer in very hot climates.

Fertilizer

Calendula does not need much in the way of feeding. If planted in fertile garden soil, it requires no additional feeding at all. Marginal soils may require feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, but over-feeding can make the plants leggy and spindly. Container plants require monthly feeding with a diluted, balanced fertilizer.

How to Care for Your Calendula

If deadheaded regularly, this plant can bloom from spring through fall and beyond. In warmer areas, the calendula may take a break from blooming during summer heat and then put on a show as temperatures fall in autumn. Regular pinching keeps the 1-3 foot (30-90 cm.) plant bushy and prevents tall, spindly stalks.

Now that you’ve learned how to grow calendulas, take advantage of their long-lasting blooms in the herb garden or light shade area. Experiment with use of calendula flower petals to replace saffron in recipes. If you are so inclined, use plant parts as a topical treatment for minor scrapes and cuts.

How is it prepared?

Calendula can be found in many different preparations. It is the flower heads that are used to prepare the calendula medicine. 

Calendula extract can be prepared as a tincture to be taken internally or as an ointment to be used externally. Calendula ointment, calendula oil or calendula cream can be used to promote wound healing on the skin, especially shallow wounds by applying it around the area. 

Furthermore, calendula plants can be prepared as a tea which is one of its more traditional uses. Calendula tea is a gentle way to incorporate the healing properties of the flower into your daily schedule. This way it helps to soothe all of the tissues of the digestive tract while also calming the body down. 

Benefits for inflammation in the body

Soothing and Healing

Possibly the most important and well-known properties of the Calendula herb is its anti-inflammatory action. These anti-inflammatory properties allow calendula oil to topically soothe inflamed skin and rashes of any kind. It both works to soothe and calm down the reaction on the skin as well as heal the skin so that this reaction does not continue to happen in the future.

In addition, these actions make this an incredible tool for healing tissues internally as well. Calendula has an affinity for the digestive tract. It helps to stimulate the digestive function decreasing stagnation and allowing food to move through our bodies. It also helps to support any of the digestive tissue along the way that is inflamed or compromised in any way. It can heal the tissue and tighten it up making it more resilient to stressors. At the same time, it can help to decrease pain by calming the tissues themselves. This can help it to relax the muscles and can be especially helpful in digestive cramping or period cramping. 

Overall this herb is one that works to soothe the entire body from an internal and external place.

Cautions

Caution should be taken when using calendula over deep wounds as it is so efficient at healing that it could theoretically heal the outer layers of skin before the inner layers. Those with an allergy to the Asteraceae family including daisies and daisy-like plants should avoid using calendula in any capacity as it could elicit an allergic reaction. 

Calendula Tea

To make a tea that soothes internal mucous membranes, add calendula flowers to water in a ratio of a tablespoon of fresh or two teaspoons of dried flowers to a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer or allow to steep for 10 minutes.

Naturally Knotty Farm
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Keep Growing – How to Identify & Care for your Seeds

Keep Growing

Welcome to our Keep Growing Project! If you haven’t already requested your seeds, you can do so here.

We grow many things on this Farm from beautiful flowers, medicinal plants & herbs to delicious fruits & veggies. Most of these plants produce seeds to ensure their circle of life. We collect the seeds that Mother Nature gives us and pass them on to you!

Our Moto here on the Farm is – Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy Minds. Growth is essential to life, without it, eventually we wither up and blow away. We want to encourage your growth – mind, body & spirit. We also think there needs to be a little adventure, a lot of faith and a dash of curiosity. This is why we send you seeds unlabeled. We want to spark your curiosity and sense of adventure and never lose your faith.

All the seeds we have shipped out originated on this farm. We grew them all, harvested them, dried them & stored them for you.

Identify your Seeds

Calendula

Bright yellow and orange flowers, historically used for medicinal and culinary purposes, come from easy calendula care when growing this simple flower.

Petals are used in cooking, and were used as yellow coloring in cheeses and butters in centuries past. When used in stews, broths and salads, these petals add a spicy taste similar to saffron to many dishes.

The calendula flower or flowering herb is an annual which will readily reseed. Too much calendula care can result in stunted or slow growth. Poor to average, well draining soil and only occasional watering after plants are established is the secret to growing prolific calendula plants.

Chinese Balsam

Chinese Balsam / Impatient

Chinese Balsam or Garden Balsam, is grown for both its showy multicolored flowers as well as its medicinal use in both Indian and Victorian gardens alike. Known for the explosive nature of its seed pods which is where the genus impatiens got its name.

Self-seeding annual.  70 days to flowers.  Plant prefers full sun, rich soil, frequent watering.  Sow directly in spring garden or grow in pots.  Barely cover seed, tamp securely, and keep evenly moist, warm and in the light until germination, which takes 3-6 days.  Easy germination, quick bright flowers and magical seed ejection makes this a child’s favourite.  Space plants 6” apart or let them fall where they may.

Birdhouse Gourd

Birdhouse Gourds

Birdhouse gourds make an ideal gardening project for the whole family. The hard-shelled hanging fruits are not edible but are wonderful for craft projects such as creating decorative homes for the birds. 

The vine and leaves are incredible soft & fuzzy to the touch and grows quickly.

Start seeds indoors 6 weeks before last frost. Transplant to garden bed in a sunny location. Support mature plants with a trellis.

Leave the gourds on the vine until after frost, when the vine has died completely. Allow your gourds to dry indoors. Give them a good scrubbing with a water/vinegar mixture to kill the mildew that may grow as it hardens. Once you can hear the seeds rattling inside, cut your hole for the birds, empty the gourd & decorate as you please. Hang outside for the birds to enjoy.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is 90% water and loaded with electrolytes!! Be sure to have some on those dog days of summer to stay hydrated!!

Plant cantaloupes in full sun in well-drained soil. Cantaloupe plants need about 85 days to mature, but don’t rush planting. Sow seeds only when temperatures reliably stay above 10 – 15 degrees C. Plant in groups of two or three seeds spaced 2 feet apart.

We hope you enjoy your FREE Gift from us! Everyday, nature shows us how she grows, adapts & evolves to the world around her. You can do the same!!!

Please share your seed journey with us, either on Facebook or in the comments below!

Keep Growing!!

Naturally Knotty Farm
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3 Simple Herbal Tea Infusions

Herbal Tea

I’m going to preface this post with full transparency. I am not an herbalist. However; I have been enjoying the benefits of herbal tea for years!! We use teas for just about everything. I have chosen some simple recipes with very common ingredients that most people have at home. If not, they are at all local grocery stores.

Herbal Tea

Chronic Pain Tea

Most of your regular garden herbs are highly medicinal so it makes sense to have them close at hand. Basil, thyme & oregano all have pain & inflammation-reducing properties and they make a wonderful, highly drinkable tea!!

2 cups water

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh Basil, Thyme & Oregano

  1. Add chopped herbs to a 473 ml jar
  2. Bring water to a boil
  3. Pour boiled water over herbs
  4. Steep for 10 – 15 minutes
  5. Strain out the herbs
  6. Add honey if you wish

Drink daily, as often as needed, to help relieve chronic pain & inflammation. It may take several weeks of daily use for pain to subside.

Non-habit-forming pain reliever!!!

**Pregnant women should avoid using large amounts of basil.

All three of these herbs are also great for the immune system, so drink this when you feel a sickness coming on to help you get better quickly.

Herbal Tea

Thyme, Peppermint, Honey Tea for Coughs

“Tis the season to be snotty…”

Thyme & Peppermint are especially good for treating persistent coughs, with Thyme being a potent natural expectorant & Peppermint acting as a decongestant. A few spoonfuls of honey to help sooth the throat, and lemon juice is an antibacterial and adds a boost of flavor & Vitamin C.

2 cups water

1 tbsp fresh Thyme

1 tbsp fresh or dried Peppermint

2-4 tbsp Raw Honey

1 lemon wedge

  1. Bring the water to a boil & pour over herbs.
  2. Let steep for 10 – 15 minutes
  3. strain out herbs, and stir in honey.
  4. Drink 1 – 2 cups, as needed to relieve a persistent cough.

** Nursing Moms should avoid Peppermint as it can reduce the supply. Spearmint is a good alternative with similar benefits.

*** While Thyme & Peppermint are highly effective for treating coughs, sage, oregano, and rosemary are also beneficial and can be substituted if that’s what is growing in your herb garden.

Herbal Tea

Children’s Calming Herbal Tea

It is common knowledge that children can easily become overstimulated and, for lack of a better word, rambunctious. When it comes time to bring your child back to center, this calming tea can really help. Catnip, in particular is an amazing herbal ally for children, as it has a gentle calming effect that promotes relaxation and sleep. Lemon balm and chamomile are flavourful herbs that are safe for children and also have a calming effect. all three of these herbs have the added benefit of being good for children’s digestion. In the summer time, pour this tea into popsicle molds for a fun, healthy, relaxing treat. Small amounts of this tea can be given to babies over the age of 6 months.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 tbsp dried lemon balm
  • 1 tbsp dried catnip
  • 1-2 tbsp raw honey (optional) (NOT to be given to children under 1 year)

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil and pour over herbs. Steep for 10 – 15 minutes, then strain out the herbs. Add honey, if using.

Serve hot or iced.

Dosage

  • 6 months – 1 year: 1 – 2 teaspoons daily
  • 1 – 2 year: 2 – 4 teaspoons daily
  • 3 – 7 years: 2 – 4 tbsp daily
  • 8 – 12 years: 1/4 – 1/2 cup daily
  • 13+: 1 – 2 cups daily

Have you tried these Herbal Tea recipes? Tell us what you think in the comments below, or share any other tried & true home remedies you use!

Naturally Knotty Farms
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How to Make Fire Cider – Natural Immune Booster

How to Make Immune Boosting Fire Cider

Written by: Andrea Scarborough, Naturally Knotty Farms

Fire Cider
Fire cider harnesses the beneficial properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs, plus vinegar and raw honey for a nourishing drink with a little kick.

I first discovered a recipe for fire cider years ago. It didn’t sound like something I wanted to try immediately, but when I read about the immune-boosting benefits I decided to be brave and give it a try. Years later, it’s a staple at our house around cold and flu time.

Fire cider is a traditional recipe that contains garlic, onion, ginger, cayenne, vinegar, and raw honey. The original recipe calls for horseradish, but for the sake of the kids I typically substitute echinacea root.

Fire Cider

Fire cider harnesses the beneficial properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs, plus vinegar and raw honey for a nourishing drink with a little kick.

How Does Fire Cider Taste?

Judging by the ingredients in the recipe, you might not expect it to taste very good. I didn’t either and I was quite pleasantly surprised by the taste. I’ve even tried it on salads as a dressing and it has a mild peppery and sweet vinaigrette flavor.

In the winter months, I sometimes take a teaspoon or so of this a day or use it on salads. If illness hits, I’ll take that dose every few hours or add a tablespoon to hot water or herbal tea a few times a day until I feel better.

For the kids, I reduce the cayenne or leave it out and they don’t mind the taste too much since the honey helps balance out the vinegar taste.

If you try fire cider and like it, I highly recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs book as the reason I first discovered this remedy.

Fire Cider
Garlic, Onion, Jalapeno, Orange, Ginger, Apple Cider Vinegar

Spicy Fire Cider Recipe

An old herbal remedy that uses the germ-fighting properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs. plus vinegar and raw honey for an immune boosting and nourishing drink with a little kick. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1 bulb garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 TBSP dried echinacea root (optional)
  • 1 orange (sliced, optional)
  • 1 jalapeño (sliced, optional)
  • apple cider vinegar (organic, with “the mother”)
  • raw organic honey
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Place onion, garlic, ginger, and echinacea root, orange, and jalapeño if using in a quart size mason jar. Make sure garlic is at the bottom and completely submerged.
  • Add enough apple cider vinegar to cover the ingredients. Use a fermentation weight to make sure all ingredients are below the liquid level.
  • Cap tightly and leave in the jar for 2-3 weeks, preferably in a sunny or slightly warm place.
  • After 2-3 weeks, strain and discard the herbs.
  • After straining, measure the apple cider vinegar left and mix it with an equal amount of raw honey and add the cayenne pepper.
  • Store in the refrigerator and take 1 teaspoon as needed daily or when illness strikes. I’ve taken as much as 1 teaspoon an hour during illness until I felt better.

Notes

Don’t worry about the garlic turning green — it’s a normal reaction for garlic immersed in an acid. 

Do you make your own Natural Immune Support? Tell us about it in the comments.

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How to Make the Perfect Bone Broth

Bone Broth

Wholesome and deeply nourishing, bone broths are among the most affordable and nutritious foods you can make at home. Rich in protein with a deeply savory aroma and flavor, broth gives foundation to soups, stews and sauces. Even more, you can also sip them on their own as a restorative.

Nutrient Rich Bone Broth
Nutrient Rich Bone Broth

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is the liquid that is leftover after you simmer meaty bones and connective tissue in water for an extended period of time. In addition to bones, connective tissue and joints, bone broths often contain vegetables, herbs and spices as well as wine or apple cider vinegar.

Vegetables, herbs and spices give flavor bone broths, but sometimes cooks add medicinal herbs like reishi or ashwaganda to give broth unique therapeutic properties.

An acidic ingredient, like wine or apple cider vinegar, helps break down the protein in connective tissue and collagen to produce a gelatinous, protein-rich broth. And it’s that protein that you’re after when you drink broth.

While you can use it as a base for soups, stews sauces and gravies, it’s traditionally sipped on its own as a restorative food. That is, people traditionally sipped broths with the intention of mitigating an illness, like a cold, or to restore and maintain general health.

What’s the difference between broth, stock and bone broth?

  • Broth is typically made from meat and simmered a short while. Broths are light in flavor, and often sipped on their own as a restorative tonic.
  • Stock is made from meaty joints and bones, simmered a moderate amount of time and cooks use them as the foundation of other foods like sauces, soups and stews.
  • Bone broth is made from a variety meaty joints and bones, simmered for an extensive period of time, and typically sipped one its own as a restorative tonic.

Nutrition

Many people sip bone broth or begin making it at home, because they’ve heard that it may support digestion, fortify the immune system, or help reverse visible signs of aging. And while bone broth is an excellent source of collagen and a nutritious foods, its specific benefits are less clear.

  • Bone broth is rich in a protein called gelatin, made from dissolved collagen. Collagen is found in connective tissue. While the amount of protein will vary depending on volume of water used, types of bones and length of cooking, most bone broth contains about 10 grams of protein per 8-oz serving.
  • It’s also rich in the amino acids like glycine and proline. Glycine is an important neurotransmitter that has anti-inflammatory properties and supports the immune system . Proline, along with other key nutrients like vitamin C, helps to support healthy joint health and collagen production.
  • Bone broth contains B vitamins like niacin and riboflavin, both of which play a role in metabolism. They also help your body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to produce energy.
  • Bone broth is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, two nutrients that help support joint health.
  • Bone broth contains trace amounts of minerals, but, despite popular claims, it is not a good source of calcium, phosphorus or other minerals.

Which bones should you use for your broth?

Good bone broth gets its characteristic gelatinous structure from collagen. And collagen comes from the connective tissue in meat, ligaments, and on bones. So, for a good-flavored broth that’s also rich in protein and gelatin, select a wide variety of bones that include some joints as well as meaty bones.

  • For beef bone broth and beef stock, use knuckle and neck bones, shanks and oxtails. You can also use marrow bones, too. But, be careful, as too much marrow makes for poor flavor, greasy texture and no gel.
  • For chicken bone broth, use a whole chicken, chicken feet, the frame of a roasted chicken, or chicken backs and wing tips. You can even make it using only chicken feet.
  • For turkey bone broth, use the frame of a roasted turkey, turkey backs, wing tips and feet, if you can find them.
  • For pork, use ham hocks and pork neck bones. If you’re lucky enough to find them, you can also use pork trotters, too.

Tips for making bone broth

Making bone broth is fairly straightforward and easy. And if you can turn on your oven, or boil a kettle of water, you can make good bone broth. Of course, there’s a few key tips you’ll want to pay attention to so that your broth comes out perfect every time.

How to get started

  • Roast your bones first. Roasting bones caramelizes their proteins and releases some fat. And that means a richer and more robust flavor for you.
  • Use wine for a touch of acidity. An acidic ingredient like wine helps to balance the flavors in bone broth, and gives better flavor than apple cider vinegar.
  • Use enough water to just cover the bones, but not too much more. Bone broths achieve their gel and high protein content because they tend to use less water than the amount used for meat broths and traditional stocks.
  • Spoon off any foam or scum that rises to the top, while it’s mostly made of protein and is fine to eat, it can make your broth cloudy and muddy the flavor.

How to get a good gel

  • Bring your kettle to a boil, and then immediately turn down the heat to a slow simmer. Simmering broth at a low temperature means better clarity, better flavor and a less greasy broth. The right temperature is also key in making sure your broth gels.
  • Simmer bone broth for several hours, not days. Simmering your broth for too long may make the gelatin break down, and it can release histamines to which some people experience sensitivity. You’ll still get plenty of protein and loads of flavor with a shorter simmer. And you won’t waste energy in the process.

How to develop great flavor

  • Add medicinal and culinary spices at the beginning. Black pepper and tough, woody herbs like dried bay, and dried roots like astragalus need time to release their flavor so add them to the pot with your bones.
  • Add roasted garlic and onions at the beginning. You can toss onion halves and garlic in with your bones when you roast them, and they’ll give your broth fantastic flavor.
  • Add vegetables at the end. Vegetables like carrots and celery can give broth a lovely flavor. But, they can also make your broth taste overly sweet, tinny or like overcooked vegetables. And no one wants that! Add them in the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking for the best flavor.
  • Add leafy herbs at the end. Leafy herbs like parsley, savory and basil can give it a beautiful punch of flavor. Unfortunately, they’ll lose all their vibrance if added to early. So add them in the last 10 minutes of cooking, or right when you take the pot off the heat.

Finishing your broth

  • Strain the hot broth into glass containers, and allow at least 1 inch of head space (or 2 if you plan to freeze the broth).
  • Degrease your broth by letting it sit and spooning off any fat that floats to the surface. Or transfer it to the fridge, and the fat will rise to the surface and coagulate as it cools. Lift off the fat with a spoon or fork before you eat it to avoid a greasy, unpalatable broth.

How to use all that broth

Traditionally, people sip bone broths on their own or with herbs and a sprinkle of sea salt for flavor. In this way, they’re primarily served as a restorative. However, you can use them just as you would traditional stocks and meat broths, too.

  • Sip bone broth on its own, or with a sprinkle of salt and a swirl of spices and herbs. It’s an excellent protein-rich snack or appetizer.
  • Use it to make soups and stews, like Mushroom StewTurkey and Wild Rice Soup, or Potato Leek Soup.
  • Use it to make sauces like gravy, pan sauce or reduction sauces.
  • Cook rice or grains in bone broth for a boost of flavor and protein. It’s fantastic in mushroom risotto.

Basic Bone Broth Recipe

Prep Time 5 mins Cook Time 8 hrs Total Time 8 hrs 5 mins Servings: 8 servings (2 quarts)  

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds bones (chicken, beef, pork, lamb etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • finely ground real salt

Equipment

  • Heavy Stock Pot, Crock Pot, Instapot or oven

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 400 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Arrange the bones on the baking sheet, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Next, roast them for 30 minutes, or until slightly brown. Turn half-way through to promote even cooking.
  • Using a pair of kitchen tongs, transfer the bones to a heavy stock pot. And then pour in the wine and water. Drop in the bay leaves and peppercorns.
  • Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, and then immediately turn the heat down to low. Simmer, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 16 hours. Skim any foam that appears at the surface of the broth.
  • Strain the broth, and season it with fine sea salt as you like it. Serve immediately, or pour it into jars and store in the fridge up to 1 week and in the freezer up to 6 months.

Notes

On Your Timing: Chicken bones and other small bones take less time, and large bones like beef bones require a longer simmer.