Calendula Harvest 2015

By Jemma, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Weleda

Monday 27th July 2015

Last Wednesday morning I had a choice Ė I could sit at my desk analysing email data or I could head to our 13 acre biodynamic gardens and pick calendula flowers Ė a bit of a no-brainer that I picked the later. Having had desk bound jobs for the last 10 or more years, heading out into the garden to pick flowers is a real treat.

So what were we going to be picking up at The Field? Calendula officinalis, commonly known as pot marigolds, is an important herbal medicinal plant as itís an excellent first aid treatment for cuts, scrapes, inflammation and infection of the skin.

Although calendula is often thought of as an antibacterial remedy it is actually a bacteriostatic, helping the body to win the fight against the infection by slowing the bacteria down and supporting the bodyís response to the challenge.

My journey with Weleda and particularly calendula started back in 2012 Ė three years before I started working for Weleda. It was shortly after the birth of my daughter, like many new parents we were gifted a load of baby care products from friends and relatives and after trying a number of different nappy creams and baby care products her skin was a complete mess. I started to read up about what I was putting on her skin and I wasnít happy with what I reading, so after many more hours reading about alternatives I decided to give Weleda Calendula Nappy Change Cream, Calendula Shampoo & Bodywash and Calendula Body Lotion a try, and Iíve never looked back. At home Calendula Shampoo & Bodywash is still a staple in our bathroom and my husband and I both use it as we also suffer from dry skin.

There were eight of us in total escaping our normal Weleda duties and heading to meet the gardenerís (Claire, Allister, Felicity and Jasper) and help out with the harvest. Why do the gardeners need extra helpers? To get the most of calendula once itís been picked. Calendula needs to be processed into a tincture within two hours to keep its maximum medicinal potency after itís been picked. As we were needing 240kgs (roughly 48 bags) of plants for medicines over the next 12 months, it would have taken the gardeners well over two hours to harvest which would have decreased the potency of the tincture.

Thankfully we were blessed with some sunshine on Wednesday morning, as the previous day was grey and miserable, and we were greeted with the Head Gardner Claireís happy smile when we arrived at The Field. Claire explained what we would be doing that morning and promised that we would all be treated to cups of tea and biscuits when we were done.

The calendula flowers are bright and cheerful, reminiscent of pure sunshine so there were smiles all-round from us when we arrived at the calendula flower beds.

After a few quiet minutes of contemplation for the plants we were about to harvest, Claire showed us how to pick the calendula. For this we needed bags for storing our harvested plants and latex gloves to wear as the calendula releases a lot of sticky resin when itís picked. The more resin the calendula plant releases, the more medicinal potency the plants have and the resin is made up of a combination of saponins, caretonoids, bitter principle, essential oil, sterols, flavonoids and mucilage.

To harvest the plants, we grabbed each plant at the base pulling it up gently to release the roots from the ground. As we were only needing the plant and flower parts of the plant, we twisted off the roots carefully to ensure that we kept the plants relatively dirt free. We discarded the roots back onto the flower beds and they would compost down over the following months ready for next yearís sowing.

We had a few curious critters stop by to see what we were doing!

In all it took us just over an hour to pick the 240kgs needed, so we had time to rest and have a cup of tea and a much needed biscuit with the gardenerís before we all headed back to head office Ė the gardeners to make their tincture and the helpers back to our regular Weleda work.