Organic Heirloom Huacatay Seeds (6) (Southern Cone Marigold/ Peruvian Black Mint/ Tagetes minuta/ wakataya/ Stinking Roger/khakibos )
Huacatay is a Marigold that stands taller than me or you with very very small pale yellow flowers. The leaves are called "Black Mint". Peruvians use this herb to make a green sauce called Black Mint Paste, which is an essential ingredient in the Potato, Aji Amarillo, Peanut, Cheese, and Egg dish called Ocopa.
Tagetes minuta is a tall upright marigold plant from the genus Tagetes, with small flowers, native to the southern half of South America. Since Spanish colonization, it has been introduced around the world, and has become naturalized in Europe, Asia, Australasia, North America, and Africa. Tagetes minuta has numerous local names that vary by region, most commonly found in the literature as chinchilla, chiquilla, chilca, zuico, suico, or anisillo. Other names include muster John Henry, southern marigold,khakibos, stinking roger, wild marigold, and black mint. Tagetes minuta has been eaten in various forms since pre-contact times. Dried leaves may be used as a seasoning and huacatay paste is used to make the popular Peruvian potato dish called ocopa. An herbal tea can be brewed from the leaves. An extraction of the plant, "Marigold oil", is used in the perfume, tobacco, and soft drink industry.
In addition to food, the plant can be used to produce dye and as a green manure crop for biomass and a bio-fumigant for control of selected species of nematodes.
It is used as a culinary herb in Peru, Ecuador, and parts of Chile and Bolivia. It is called by the Quechua terms huacatay in Peru or wakataya in Bolivia. It is commonly sold in Latin grocery stores in a bottled, paste format as black mint paste.
PLANTING / HARVESTING NOTES
Direct sow after last frost when soil is warm. Sow every 2-4", 1/8-1/4" deep, and thin to 12-24" per plant. In one part of our garden this year, we grew 12 plants that filled in a 30-foot row like a solid hedge. Water regularly until germination. While our germination rate is good at 84%, our past experience shows that germination can be spotty in the soil. We oversow and then move thinnings to other parts of the garden. This plant is resistent to deer, groundhogs, and insect pests, so can be grown as a perimeter plant outside of your fences. It will grow much taller with irrigation, but does great without irrigation as well.
SEED KEEPING NOTES
Wait until the flowers start to dry out and until you can hear the seeds shaking in their seedheads. At this point, cut branches and whack in a bucket allowing the seeds to fall. Sift through strainers and use wind, breath, or fans to clean off smaller chaff.