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When one experiments

22 Aug

I was trying for indirubin red with Japanese indigo….no success…yet!

Fresh leaves-chopped

Bring to boil in double boiler-will push to grey

Add the cloth as water bubbles, cloth should turn red as bubbles hit cloth.

Notes also said add more vinegar to push the red.

Now….no red but a very good moss green. Lightfastness still to be tested.

Samples

V= left overnight in vinegar

O= left overnight in JI stew + vinegar

Right hand sample pulled from pot & rinsed immediately.

Negative research is good. I will try again with a different method. This recipe boggled my mind as I don’t think of a process of Japanese Indigo with boiled water.

July 2019 Japanese Indigo Harvest

24 Jul

It is time to harvest my Japanese Indigo before the Texas August heat. I am definitely a small grower, dependent on irrigation & sun shield fabric. My indigo bed is about 3 1/2 feet by 14 feet, it is not huge because my shade & irrigation lines limit productive garden. Plus I have to protect from “the diggers”, armadillos. Hence my desire to dry leaves, it is works for my pace. As an aside you can see my madder root which has a reckless disregard for the Texas heat & armidillos trying to breach the indigo fort.

I prepped 10 bundles to dry. This week’s weather is perfect for drying, hot, no rain & moderate wind.

My dye patio shelving does double duty as drying rack. The green fabric protects the “greens” overnight. We have racoons. In a couple of days the bunches will be dry enough to strip the leaves easily and store in bins for final drying for storage.

The bed has been watered and resecured. More will grow & I will harvest again in late September.

New tools-Dried Indigo

27 May

I’ve shared photos of my Japanese Indigo leaf harvest before so some of this is repeat for some readers. For other readers this is worth repeating. My Japanese Indigo crop sprouted in February, way early for the Texas Hill Country. Sprouts came from discarded seeds and root stock left on the ground last season. This bonus crop is now in the way of planting new seedlings. So time to try new harvesting tools and drying methods with this bonus crop. I can tell by it’s height and leaf size as it goes to seed it is not as vigorous as new annuals. So it needs to clear the way for this year’s seedlings.

I have electric clippers that I use in garden trimming (arthritis slows me down). Will they work faster than scissors? Caution….

The clippers worked well. I tried drying the leaves in the same set up I have for a different Indigo but I went back to my bundle and hang method. Why? The May winds blow over my temporary setup. For now, I’ve secured it to a gate. There is no wind to contend with in August and September when I usually harvest. Remember….bonus crop due to the Texas rains last fall & late winter temperatures.

A couple of days will render these bundles to a dry level that will enable me to easily strip off the leaves of the stems. But one always looks for alternatives in one’s circumstances and environment.

Gasp…Japanese Indigo in mid-March in the Hill Country

24 Mar

Truly unusual, indigo in mid-March. When I left on my travels in mid-January I noticed that, for the first time my Japanese Indigo had sprouted on its own. In January. I figured it would freeze back, but come mid-February it had grown well and was holding it own. I left the country again thinking our late February or early March freezes would put it in its place.

Well, I am home now, my husband did defend the plants thru one deep freeze (serious husband points) and the indigo is thriving, even blooming. Normally this time of year I would be turning the soil, enriching it, placing the drip hose and eyeing the seeds figuring out when to start the seed packs.

So, now what do I do? Let it continue to grow till it hits a foot and harvest it? I am tempted to do a pigment extraction. I usually dry & hold. Suggestions are welcome.

This is truly a bonus crop from last year’s seeds left in place. We still have cricket season in the near future. If I do see cricket chomping I will harvest. In the meantime I will dig out my seeds and prep my seedlings to drop in between these early bonus plants.

Winter Garden Chores

12 Jan

Temps here in Texas are just weird this season. Japanese Indigo seeds are sprouting early. Never have they sprouted in January.

Madder root are poking new shoots out rather than going dormant. Mid-January is just not the time for this dye plant behavior.

Being the weather opportunist I had Emerald Landscape local folks out to pull a large perennial flower bed which was past its prime, weed & layout a pad for an indigo pot work area. More to come on this pot install journey later.

After 10 years here our rosemary had gotten old and overgrown and needed to be pulled. Since John & I have also gotten older as well the day of garden muscle help was most welcome.

Since I did not have to wrestle rosemary bushes out of the ground I used this wet day to trim back madder root away from acanthus bushes and save the roots for dyeing. I hate to toss red roots. The gardeners think I am nuts.

Here are the roots after cleaning. I will let them dry for a couple of days and then cut them smaller for further drying.

The garden bed is now prepped for the 3 year root harvest. It has been 4 years since the last harvest. More to come on this harvest later. Where’s my pitchfork?

John Marshall’s Japanese Indigo dye resource released

17 Jul

Passing on the word that John Marshall’s book has been released in printed & affordable format. For those of us who grow Japanese Indigo on a small basis due to garden or climate limitations it gives us choices on which technique to try with our precious crop. I have been fortunate to watch this release be tested & developed. We have not had a practical guide released on this side of the ocean in decades. Firmly rooted in the Japanese tradition John has translated, tested and added his personal experience to this tradition. Your guild should have a copy. If you grow and want other avenues to explore other than extraction you will enjoy the brain biscuits that John has beautifully prepared for us. Enjoy!

http://www.johnmarshall.to/indigo/

10 day difference for Japanese Indigo seedlings

30 Mar

10 days & temperature increases and sunshine made a big difference. March 17th I planted my Japanese Indigo seeds, by the 27th I had sprouts! I ordered the wrong seed tray. Duh, but seeds planted in new tray sprouted sooner than my old method. I am smarter now despite myself. Next up I will plant my Indigofera Suffruticosa seeds. I’ll throw Cota and Hopi Sunflowers into the mix this year also. Maybe I can beat the birds to the seeds for dye this year.

I am still on bud watch on my older Suffruticosa plants. Will the 3 year old plants live longer? Did the freeze this January take the younger plants out? The drama of gardening continues.

Plus the Texas Persimmon is budding and blooming. Before I know it I will be out picking persimmons in July for the dye.

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