Garden Art & Calendula Balm

As if to remind us that summer is nearing its end, the past week’s days have been cooler and noticeably shorter. It seems a bit prematurely fall-like. We observed this at the end of last week’s gathering, when it was too dark for Carol to get a good photo of our guest, Christine, and me. Despite this, we still managed to have another thoroughly enjoyable Gardening for Good last week Thursday.

The peppers and tomatoes were ripe and abundant. These plants–which began by seed in Marge’s house–continue to have a wonderfully productive life. Daniel harvested the remaining carrot crop, while Carol, Pat, and Ken crafted brilliant bouquets of zinnias and dill flowers with friends. Steve and Rick watered the raised beds, and we bagged up as much kale and collards as people could stand to take home with them.

Christine–an art teacher and friend of Gardening for Good–joined us this week to find art with us at Troy Gardens. We harvested flowers from our garden, and together made beautifulmagnets, using the flowers’ petals and inspiring quotes from various authors. The results looked great, and everybody was proud to share their artwork!

As most of our gatherings are, it was a busy day!! We weeded, conversed, laughed, composted, marveled, harvested and created garden art! All the while, we finished up the calendula project that we started way back in early June–when our first calendula flowers were in bloom. Since then, we have harvested gallons of these sweet, sticky blossoms. Then, we set them out to completely dry, which took a few weeks. Next, we poured grapeseed oil into large jars with the dried flowers, and allowed them to steep for about a month, so to infuse the calendula’s healing properties into the oil. Following this, we strained the solid particles from the oil using cheesecloth. And last Thursday, we completed the final step: Using a propane grill and a makeshift double boiler, we combined beeswax with the calendula-infused oil, and heated it just enough to melt the wax. Once melted, we poured the mixture into individual-sized jars for each gardener to take home for personal use. This calendula balm is great for rough or chapped skin; cuts and abrasions; bruises and inflammations; rashes and fungal infections. It is a very gentle natural healer that has amazing antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflamatory, anti-itch, and anti-fungal properties. I plan to have more jars of this tomorrow at our final gathering. It is a product of many weeks of many hands, gardening together beneath the blue-bottled tree! See you all tomorrow, August 27 at 6PM, for our Harvest Potluck!


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