Marigolds are a flowering annual that attract beneficial insects. They produce globe-shaped blossoms that consist of lacy foliage. Marigolds also produce a pungent smell that deters some gardening pests, so they are a popular plant among vegetable gardeners. They are ideal for planting in borders, beds, and container gardens. I find marigolds to be among the easiest to sow, grow, and save, so they are great for beginners.
Marigolds are cross-pollinated by insects, so you should only grow one variety at a time when planning on harvesting their seeds. To get started, just sow seeds in a sunny location, after the danger of spring frost. Thin seedlings when they are about two inches in height, with the final spacing of the dwarf varieties about 6-8 inches apart. Taller varieties of marigolds need to be spaced up to 18-24 inches apart, so research your selected variety before planting. Marigolds seeds can also be started indoors 6-8 six weeks before planting outdoors in the spring. However, I prefer to start them outdoors since seedlings are susceptible to damping-off (a fungal disease). Marigolds are not fussy flowers, and do well in poor to average soil. The most important tip to growing them: keep their soil slightly dry. They don’t like soggy conditions.
Marigold blossoms turn to seed, so do not dead head all of their flowers. Let them wilt and turn brown, and do most of the drying on the plant. Marigold seeds are easy to identify because they have a unique appearance. The black or brown seeds are long and slender with a tip that resembles a tiny tuft of straw. I think they look like mini brooms.
The seeds are ready for harvest once the seed pods dry and turn brown. Cut the dried flower heads from the plant. Pull away any remaining petals, but be careful they are attached to the seeds. Then, gently crack open the seed pod and collect the seeds. After separating the seeds, spread them out to dry for a week, or two before placing them in a paper envelope in a cool, dark, and dry place. They are viable for about three years.
Marigolds produce so many seeds, that we have thousands from just saving the seeds of three plants. So, in honor of our first gardening post on EcoEtsy, we are giving three seed packs away!
Backyard FL Gardening’s Marigold Giveaway Details
3 packs of French Dwarf Double Mixed Colored Marigolds, that have been organically grown in our backyard, are up for grabs! Multiple chances to win per person:
1. Subscribe to EcoEtsy blog (there on the right, at the top —>)
2. Subscribe to my Backyard FL Gardening blog
3. Follow EcoEtsy on Facebook
4. Follow Backyard FL Gardening on Facebook
Leave a comment with your entries and an email address for contact. Three winners will be randomly selected by Random.org’s generator. Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday, February 12th, 2012.
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