End of Season Indigo Chores

25 Oct

We have frost in our Hill Country weather forecast this weekend. With my recent back surgery I can’t go into physical overdrive but with my husband’s help I can pull in both indigo species seeds for drying and trim some Indigo Suffruticosa leaves to dry.

The Japanese Indigo seeds below are set out to dry before separating from blooms. There is another leaf bed to harvest but I am saving those for a John Marshall study group project. Hopefully, the freeze is just a forecast not a reality.

Above are the banana shaped Indigo Suffrucitosa seed pods. See the black seeds peeking at you?

And finally the leaf stripping station. Truly high tech, I strip the leaves off the stems. Easier now rather than later. The fresh leaves will be weighed and after drying I’ll weigh the yield. Like that back brace? It will be my friend for the next 90 days while my bone grafts heal. Oh goodie.

This batch will go into my leaf drying mesh bag and left out for a couple of days. By then the bugs will decamp and I can transfer the batches to rubber tubs for long term drying indoors.

These tubs show dried batches from earlier this year. All are Indigo Suffrucitosa except the lower right hand which is Japanese Indigo.

In the end the process is easy to fit into my lifestream and I can focus on growing the indigos, dry them and run dye pots later. Its all about focus at the proper time. I’ve been collecting quantity stats to see what amount of color I can expect each season. The indigo left on my plants today will probably be my freeze dry stash for the year. We trimmed the plants for the winds so here’s hoping for a dry hard freeze when old man winter does hit.

Here is a photo from last year’s freeze dry experiment. It worked! 100 grams yielded this color on 340 grams of silk. Granted it is not a dark blue but I am testing the process for my Indigo Suffruticosa that works for dried Japanese Indigo. It worked well enough that next time I am cranking up the dry leaf quantity to see how blue I can go with dried indigo, more words on that in another blog entry. And of course, these skeins will go in to get darker.

In the larger scheme of dye life it is about what colors you can grow, the easiest process to use what one harvests and how to get darker colors and fitting it into your daily rhythm. We do it because we can. Enjoy your harvest.

16 Responses to “End of Season Indigo Chores”

  1. Sue October 26, 2017 at 12:20 am #

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting this blog. My season is ahead of yours, usually. We are expecting our first freeze this weekend too. I trimmed mine on Sunday and laid the branches and stems, leaves still attached, on a net sweater dryer. It is amazing how fast the leaves dried, even piled up like they were. The dried leaves are strippng off easily. I’ll wait to see what you do with your dried leaves before I proceed. In the meantime, I discovered that a friend who has a native plant nursery has a huge indigo suff that I intend to harvest next week,after the frost 😊


    • debmcclintock October 26, 2017 at 12:51 am #

      It will be awhile until I get back to my dyepots. Search for the dried indigo take 1 blog entry. That has the recipe John Marshall translated from the Japanese Indigo masters writing….


      • Sue October 26, 2017 at 1:01 am #

        Oh yes, I remember reading this. Thanks for pointing it out again.


  2. Winki Allen October 26, 2017 at 1:05 am #

    > Do you sell the suffruticosa seed? I would live to have some to plant In Enterprise, MS. I think I have an awesome climate and dye garden for this indigo. I don’t need a massive amount …… just a good row or two. Thanks Winki

    Winki.allen.silks Sent from my iPhone



    • debmcclintock October 26, 2017 at 1:18 am #

      I will advertise on my blog when the seeds are ready. Keep an eye on the entries, probably won’t list them for sale until Feb 2018. That will give them time to dry and still be available for early seed trays. Thanks, Mississippi will probably be a good climate for them. Hot and wet!


    • debmcclintock March 19, 2018 at 2:43 pm #

      I’ve put my indigo suffruticosa seeds out for sale. Check my blog for the Etsy shop link


  3. Winki Allen October 26, 2017 at 1:16 am #

    These yarns are beautiful! Is this an icedyeing or a vat? Winki

    Sent from my iPhone



    • debmcclintock October 26, 2017 at 1:19 am #

      This is a Thio vat of reconstituted freeze dried indigo. I’ll blog about it. Keep an eye out for it.


  4. Winki Allen October 26, 2017 at 1:21 am #

    This is such an interesting blog. I love the dyed yarn with the dried leaves. Is it an ice water dyeing recipe or do you make a vat with the dried leaves? Thank you for sharing your indigo experience. I wish you blessings for healing in your back.


    • debmcclintock October 26, 2017 at 1:26 am #

      Look for my blog entry on Dried Indigo Take 1, it is a long entry but gives you a good foundation and several great references to follow. I usually air dry my indigo, easy with our Texas heat. This particular batch was hit by a hard freeze and dried on the plant. I could not stand to waste it and picked it and secured it and labeled it. Hence I know it works for freeze dried as well as sun dried indigo. Just another way to store and process indigo.


  5. Judy Pullen October 26, 2017 at 1:37 am #

    Obey your doctor. Consider the back brace a fashion statement as well as your best friend. I had spinal fusion, rods, and stem cell grafts 2 years ago and life is good at long last. You will be more productive next spring.


    • debmcclintock October 26, 2017 at 1:42 am #

      Thanks Judy, I will be good. This was a TLIF between the 4/5 vertebra. I already feel no pain where I had hurt for years. Only pain now is where the surgery took place. Now I have to be patient and let the bone grafts heal to pull their load. You are right, Spring 2018 is looking real good.


  6. sherriwoodardcoffey December 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

    I realize these silks were an experiment, but they’re beautiful as they are!


    • debmcclintock December 2, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

      These are from fresh leaves that flash frooze during a early hard freeze last year. I’ll probably overdye them with more dried leaves.


    • debmcclintock December 2, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

      Thank you, I sometimes think all indigo dyeing is an experiment.


  7. Sue December 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

    My suffruticosa never got to this seed pod stage! Not even close. I harvested just befor a freeze at the end of October. At least I had 5 healthy plants at the end of the season. Will see if they make it through the winter.


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