Rosemary: The Queen of My Garden

Rosemary is hands-down my favorite herb.  We met about four years ago when I decided to (why not?) start a garden.  Thought to myself that it was easy!  Just dig a hole and plant a plant…..

While we all know it’s not as easy as that (though it can be, but most gardeners want their gardens to do the very best that they can), rosemary IS as easy as that.  Her story lies in her origins…


Picasso’s “Mediterranean Landscape”

Rosemary hails from one of the best places on Earth, the Mediterranean. This is where she received her..official name.  Rosmarinus officinalis.  If you don’t run around in those Latin circles, that translates to “mist of the sea”.


It’s a rocky, sandy area, the Mediterranean.  A bit dry, too, but rosemary grows rampant there.  She’s an easy-to-get-along-with plant.  She’s tough, she can handle drought, something I know personally.  Ever seen the top soil of a four-year old potted plant whose soil went undisturbed, except, for like twice?

It was like a mat.  Not much water was getting through, but she didn’t mind.  Rosemary isn’t a fan of wet, stagnant roots.  If the soil doesn’t drain well, rosemary ain’t growing there.  She’s never shown any sign of struggle or distress, so I let her be.  Like I said, very easy to get along with.

She’s one of my original plants.  The only one that made it.  I bought her along with oregano and thyme (which I’ve never been able to grow),  and basil, and mint.  I had to put her in a flower pot because she needed a home.  Her house wasn’t ready yet, so I moved her into a trailer.  She eventually toured the whole yard, and I’m sure she had a great time, but I think she was ready to put down roots.  The next stage of life has begun.






Infused Calendula Oil

After distilling dried calendula, I learned that its yield for essential oil is not big.   In fact, it’s typically 0.3%, which means if you take 100lbs of calendula flowers and distill them, you’re going to get one third of a pound of oil.  Not even a whole pound….So, basically, I didn’t get any essential oil, only hydrosol.

What I’ve decided to do in view of this little snag, is to infuse calendula into oil.  It’s a very simple process that can be done a couple of ways.  I chose the longer method.  I have three mason jars full of olive oil with calendula flowers floating about, basking in the sun all day, and will continue to do so for 6 weeks.  Every day I give the jars a shake, shake, shake as I tick another day off the countdown.

The infused oil will be mixed with beeswax to make a couple of different salves, and maybe even some lip balm.

Moonlight Gardening…

I’ve done it many times and honestly, it’s my favorite time to garden.   On a night like tonight, a day or two away from a full moon, the 2nd for May, the night isn’t so dark.

There was a good, soaking rain last night, and a hot, blaring sun today (yesterday rather).  It made for the perfect soil to work with.  I am very impressed with my herb bed soil.  It grows anything I plant.

I managed to rearrange, and transplant, some basil.   And eight tomato vines.  I planted two oregano plants, since I’ve had no luck with seeds (thank you, backyard wildlife).

I watered everything down real well.  And I have at least two dozen basil plants that need homes.  It’s all 2nd generation basil (oh, yeah, the basil seeds I sowed took off), and I just can’t find it in me to plant abort…

This season’s basil ain’t gonna be no joke.  I see a lot of basil hydrosol in the future.  I’m right this minute testing a mixture of lavender, peppermint, and rosemary hydrosol as insect repellent.

Needs more work…


Backup plan.  Always have a backup plan…

Mid-Spring Garden of ’16


Oh!  And I picked some jalapenos.  They say to pick the first fruits when they’re ripe to stimulate growth.  Decided to pickle them whole…really need to get more mason jars…

Saturday, May 14th,

Around 9 am I transplanted tomatoes.  Moved them from the herb bed into the big bed.  This was their second transplant.  I was curious how well they would do being that I transplanted them early in the morning, and the sun was going to be bright and hot all day, but they did excellent.  Hooked them up with some fertilizer, watered them very well, and they are killing it.  Still have about 10 more plants to move…


There really are garden notes.

I picked the carrots I planted sometime in March.  The purpose of this crop was to pickle the harvest, as we don’t eat the carrots we do have.  I found a recipe online and made a sugar brine.  Never did that one before.  I used the same pickling ingredients that I used for okra a few years back (minus the dill seed).  Time will tell if it was a success.


Calendula: Let’s Learn About It

This year I wanted to interplant vegetables with herbs and flowers in an attempt to attract beneficial insects as well as deter harmful ones.  In all that I read throughout the years, I knew marigolds were a solution.  As I started looking into essential oils and hydrosols, I came across calendula AKA pot marigold.  Calendula and marigold are basically first cousins, but calendula seems to rock harder at life.



Culinary Uses

Calendula has been used in the culinary world to simply just eat.  Want a bright pop of yellow or orange in a salad?  Throw in a flower.  If you were inclined to eat it, eat the petals, it’s okay.  Here’s a couple of recipes you may want to try.

Marigold Cheese Soup

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 Tbsp minced marigold petals
  • ½ cup each minced celery and green peppers
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cup each minced onions and carrots
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp sherry
  • 1 quart chicken stock chopped chives or parsley
  • 3 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  • additional petals salt and pepper

Melt butter and saute celery, green peppers, onions, and carrots for 12 minutes. Add flour, constantly stirring, and slowly add stock, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Lower heat and slowly add cheese, stirring gently. Add salt, pepper, marigold petals, milk, cream, and sherry. Heat but do not boil. Garnish with finely chopped chives or parsley and a single marigold petal. Pour into a tureen for serving and place watercress and marigold flowers around the tureen. (The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery)

Turkey Calendula Roll-Ups

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp diced sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 cup calendula petals
  • 4 12-inch tortillas
  • 8 oz wafer-thin turkey slices or ham, if desired
  • Lettuce leaves, for garnish
  • Calendula petals for garnish

In a bowl, blend the cream cheese with the mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon juice, and pickle relish. Gently stir in apple and calendula petals. With a spatula spread the mixture evenly over each tortilla. Cover spread with a single layer of turkey (or ham) slices. Roll up the filled tortilla, jelly-roll style. Cut immediately, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until serving. To serve, cut to desired thickness, and arrange on a serving platter over a bed of lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with additional calendula petals. (Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion)

Descriptions I’ve read about the taste include “bitter” and “tangy”.  Calendula AKA pot marigold AKA Poor Man’s Saffron, is not used for its nutritional value, but for its taste.  It’s called “pot marigold” because it was the flower people threw into pots to season stews and the like.  It’s called “Poor Man’s Saffron” because the taste is sharp and resembles saffron, and its very accessible.

It’s also used as a natural food colorant.  It can be added to butter and cheese (yellow and orange food), and it’s also used in chicken feed to help give the egg yolks a deeper orange/yellow color.  And although this isn’t culinary related, the flowers can be used as a fabric dye as well.


Medicinal Uses

Everything.  It’s used for everything.  Eyes, teeth, wounds, cancer, aches and pains.

Calendula Tea and/or Hydrosol Uses

If you have:

  • Acne (wash)
  • An itchy scalp (pour, soak, and massage)
  • A sore throat (gargle)
  • Bruises or sprains (soak your body)
  • Diaper rash (homemade wipes)
  • Fever (break it by drinking it)
  • Foot/fingernail/toenail fungus (soak)
  • Itchy eyes (rinse) (filter before you rinse)
  • Itchy bug bite (spritz)
  • Mouth sores/ulcers/inflammation (swish)
  • Skin abrasions (spritz)
  • Skin inflammation/rashes (soak rag and use as a compress)
  • Stomach ulcers (drink)

You can also make a healing salve with beeswax for much of the above listed ailments, plus burns (including the razor kind).  Calendula essential oil can be used for eczema and psoriasis, even ringworm and jock itch.  Oh, and this can also be used on your pets.  It even has anti-cancer properties.  If you have something wrong with you, chances are calendula can help you.  However, a word of warning, it’s said to trigger menstruation, so if you’re pregnant or nursing, you should stay away.

If you’re not pregnant or nursing, and have problematic skin, calendula has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes the irritation.  Here’s a recipe.


Calendula and Bran Cleansing Scrub for Acne

  • 4 1/2 Tbsp calendula water
  • 2 Tbsp bran
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt

Stir cooled calendula water and bran thoroughly. Add the salt and mix (with a fork) until you have a paste. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more calendula water. Apply the scrub and massage your skin for four to five minutes, concentrating on your problem areas. Rinse with tepid water, then with cool water, and pat dry.

Do you have any uses for calendula?  If so, I’d love to hear them.

To be continued…


Mopping the Floors: An Experiment

Wanting to experiment with something (I’ve been too busy to distill or garden much), I decided to put my efforts into the much needed housework.  Having a two-year old who hasn’t mastered the art of eating without dropping/throwing/putting food on the floor, and who also likes to be outside barefoot just as much as I do, makes for a very dirty floor.  We sweep it and “swiffer” it often, but it had been awhile since it had a good scrubbing.  Between the messy house and my just-sitting-there oils, I decided to combine the two.

Our house is mostly all linoleum, stretching from the front of the house to the back.  Lots of head and butt busting area, so I started in the living room to get that beast done first.  While I was boiling the water (more on that in a bit), I stripped the room of all its furniture.  If it wasn’t bolted to the wall, it was gone.  The dirt, the food, the spilled drinks, the built up filth behind and under the sofa, all of it needed to go.  I was going to scrub this floor on my hands and knees, and since my hands (and legs) were going to have constant contact with the mopping solution, I wanted something gentle.

The Mopping Soap

A good friend of mine makes soap, and one of my favorites is her Simply Soap.  I’m sure I could’ve used vinegar and baking soda, maybe a few other things as well, but I didn’t want to take the chance of the house smelling like vinegar or leaving a baking soda residue on the floor, making it gritty.  I had an extra bar of her soap, so I used it.  Leaving my grater at work (lunch purposes), I cut up chunks of the soap and added them to a pot of water.



After letting that boil, melt and blend for a bit, I added 10 drops of orange essential oil and 10 drops of rosemary essential oil.  Immediately, the smell was pleasant.  Not overwhelming, yet not subtle.  I poured this mixture into a bowl and began scrubbing.  After the initial scrub, I went back over the floors again to rinse them, I guess you could say.


Sudsy soap water with oils


That was a dirty floor…

The Results

Due to sore knees and time management, I decided to use a mop for the rest of the floor.  Same formula, different medium, and the results did not disappoint.  The floor indeed felt cleaner.  I’m a barefoot person, so I felt the difference right away, and still feel it about a week later, which I don’t know if that says something about my housekeeping or the soap solution….but, for some reason, and it could be my imagination, it seems as if the dirt is easier to sweep.  It’s like it easily moves over the floor.

I’m very impressed and will continue using this method in the future.  It left the floors looking and feeling clean, and the leftover scent smelled natural.  Maybe this weekend I’ll clean the walls with this…..


Waiting for the floor to dry

Louisana Saturday Night


I didn’t do anything in the garden today, but I did the inside of the house to be able to play in the garden tomorrow.

I did realize something, though.  I’ve been over watering my garden.  I bought a sprinkler not too long ago and it’s just so much fun.  Greyson loves it, I enjoy it, but I think I’m washing the fertilizer and nutrients away and down.  Like, down, down.  When the plants get older, it’s gonna be awesome, but while they’re young, their roots are shallow.  The nutrients are just washing through, stunting their growth.

However, every time it rains, my garden thrives.  I think I’m going to stop watering for awhile.  Let mother nature take up that chore.
Thank you, I’m very appreciative.

Brought to you by Lowell Fulson with Every Time it Rains.