I have always loved marigolds. I love the way they small and I love the colors. I love that they will help keep the bugs away from your vegetables. I love that they are easy to grow. And I especially love that I have a great reason to grow them now. They are a great dye.
Depending on your choice of mordant, you can get lots of different colors with marigolds although they are all in the yellow to orange family. Alum will give you a bright yellow. It's even a brighter yellow with tin. Chrome adds a golden tint anyway so marigolds are a rich golden orange. Copper adds a greenish tone to the yellow and iron saddens the yellow to a soft yellowy brown. Marigolds are a dependable natural dye. You always get some color although exactly what the color will be is always a mystery. Everything about growing your flowers influences the color - the amount of rain and when it fell, the heat levels, the quality of the water, the amount of dew, the quality of the sunshine. They all influence the color.
This year I was a little tardy in getting my marigolds planted. We had some issues with the garden bins. They had been overrun with weeds and the soil had been compressed so the plants were really deep in the bins. We added more soil and mulch and spent a fair amount of time weeding before we planted.
Given the huge list of rules and regulations, I can't call these marigolds "Organic" but note that these plants are not sprayed with pesticides and are fertilized with llama poo from my llamas.
I'm pleased to say the marigolds are doing great. The purple basil looks pretty good too but the indigo was a complete bust. More about those other crops later. For now I'm picking marigolds every three days or so. The more you pick the flowers, the more flowers you get. It's really pretty cool! I usually get a small bucket full and that dries down to about 2 cups of dried marigold flowers perfect for your next natural dye day.
Once the flowers are picked I put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake them for 24 hours at the oven's lowest setting - about 170 degrees. Then they go into plastic bags ready to be weighed. I'll be picking marigolds all summer long.
I'll let you know when we start harvesting the purple basil. We got a stunning green the last time we dyed with it so I'll be interested to see what happens this summer.