However, they do not have the most fragrant smell. But sometimes a weird smell can be very useful! This brightly colored family of plants strive to be the most helpful blooms in the garden. They do not seek to hold the crown as the most beautiful or ostentatious, but they do win the role of the most congenial and helpful companion flowers of the garden, in my opinion. Much of my childhood was spent with my garden loving grandparents who ALWAYS planted marigolds every year. They loved to include companion plants that would assist others with nutrients, run off rabbits, distract and confuse invasive pests, and a variety of other helpful tasks. The marigold is an ideal border to have around your home garden for a variety of reasons. To name a few:
1. Marigolds can be eaten after removing any white or green parts. Try them in salads, frozen in ice cubes, used to liven up stir fry, and even give color as a saffron substitute. The best varieties for cooking include the French Marigold (Tagetes patula), Gem Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia), and Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida).
2. Marigolds suppress nematode outbreaks in the soil when used as companion plants to tomatoes, peppers, beans, okra, etc. Nematodes are a kind of worm that will destroy your favorite veggie providers.
3. Marigolds are excellent distractors to bugs that we don’t love like Japanese Beetles. The bright attractive blooms confuse their flight paths as they search for veggie plants to devour. The closer the marigold, the better the better the chance of confusing the hungry bug.
4. Marigolds are a wonderful chicken feed for your backyard hen! In fact, dried marigolds are frequently used by farmers to enhance egg yolk color for a super bright Sunny-side-up.
5. Marigolds have long been used for medicinal ailments such as: cramps, fever, sore throat. Just boil some water to about two tablespoons of marigold petals in around 8 ounces of water. Use local honey and a lemon wedge to round out the flavor.
6. Marigolds are a humane and kind way to get rid of Rabbits in your garden. By planting a dense border of marigolds around the perimeter of veggies the Rabbits target you can avoid the need for trapping and relocation of Peter Cotton Tail n friends. Rabbits don’t like the smell of Marigolds.
7. Marigolds can be planted once and will often reseed themselves for the following year. One bloom may contain hundreds of seeds that can harvested as the blooms dry.