Starting the Dyers Garden-Farm News Feb 15

Hello Friends,

I do hope everyone is fairing this February and you have been busy making garden plans and the such.

My fields and garden beds are full to the brim this year with so many plants I dont normally get to grow alot of. This is namely due to the fact we will be growing in a friends plot this summer on top of our won beds. This will give us another 2700sq. ft of growing, that is literally thousands more flowers folks! I have planned flowers for Thanksgiving and lots of drieds for Christmas 2021! It is very exciting. Due to this extra space this year, I have been able to keep my "nursery bed" pretty empty thus far. My Nursery bed lies along the side of the house in the hot open air of the gardens. I keep it as an annual bed and an overflow bed for extra seeds and plants I dont have enough room for. Since I have extra space this year, I have decided to use the Nursery bed to home my dyers garden.

A dyers garden for those of you that dont know will be a garden space dedicated mostly to plants that will produce some sort of color when processed to naturally dye fibers. While last summer took me on a journey into lake pigments and mineral paints from the rock and earth. This year I will be studying plant dyes and learn ancient techniques used to extract colors from botanical materials.

Over the winter I have been spinning my own cellulose fibers from native plants in the area. I learnt how to release fiber from Indian hemp plant and Stinging Nettle, both grow wild here. I have also had been extremely blessed by the Cedar tree, who taught me how to release the fiber of the cedar from the inner bark and weave it into cord. I've been using this cord to make baskets this winter. But my Indian hemp fibers are much softer, like jute and require spinning. My hope is to produce my own dye for my own plant spun fibers all from plant material.

This has begun my Indigo and other dye plants journey. And I will be recording my process and learning as I go.

This week I have planted my first Indigo seeds for this years crop. From what I gather, Indigo likes a nice warm moist place to grow, something I dont really have naturally on my mountain. So Ive decided to grow the indigo in my friends field in the valley. It will need to be watered daily I suspect, which does pose some concerns, as I hadnt wanted to visit this field every day. I will experiment with potting some indigo for my green house and keep it on site as well and see which site grows best.

I have also begun researching other dye plants that should grow well here. Including woad, another plant used for blue dye, and weld which produces a yellow. I have also obtained seeds for madder, that produces a red from the roots. There are many more that I will be growing in the flower gardens like, black scabiosa, marigolds, black hollyhocks, coreopsis, tansy, hopi sunflowers, & hopi amaranth to name a few. I hope to document the success of each of these colors as i trial through them to find the plants that will grow well in our climate, produce lots of color and produce light fast dyes. These are a few of my requirements before they get the chop from the roster.

This week I will also be seeding up all my 8 week flowers and filling up the seedling shelves. It will be a busy weekend as the lunar calendar turns best for flower planting on Friday this week.

Cheers Everyone. Happy February.


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