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'Odesa Market' Calendula

Calendula officinalis

Grown by: Experimental Farm Network in Elmer, NJ

  • $5.00

This diverse landrace calendula was collected in June 1986 at the Odesa farmer's market in Ukraine by Kate Rogers Gessert of Eugene, Oregon, who recorded it at the time as a "local type." She donated the variety to the USDA the following year, and they've maintained it since at the North Central Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa. Due to my [Nate's] family history in Ukraine, and Odesa specifically — my great-grandparents fled anti-Jewish violence there in 1905 — I requested a small sample of the seeds in mid-February 2022, along with a number of other Ukrainian seeds. As it turns out, Russia would launch its ignominious invasion of Ukraine eight days later on February 24th.

In growing these seeds out, I had expected to feel nothing but enjoyment and a renewed connection to my ancestors — and I certainly did feel those things. But ultimately it became a much more bittersweet experience, not only because the beautiful calendula was such an incongruous reminder of the ongoing war — but also because the vibrant flowers proved to be a much more potent reminder of my own family's generational trauma than I ever expected.

If you care to read about that trauma, along with the requisite history lesson, please read a very personal post about this variety with family photos on the Experimental Farm Network seed listing page HERE.

Description and photos by Nathan Kleinman of Experimental Farm Network.

Days to maturity: 42-56

Seeds per pack: ~25

Germination rate: 90% on 01/01/2024

Planting / harvesting notes

Direct sow after last frost when soil is warm. Sow every 2", 1/4" deep, and thin to 6-12" per plant.

Seed keeping notes

Saving seed from Calendula is easy! Wait until the flower dies and the seadhead fully matures, and collect the dry, brown seeds. Lay out on paper to dry further, and store in an envelope within a container in a cool, dry place.

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