Friday, 18 April 2008

Madder and Indigo

I started my seeds too early. With commercial madder seeds, I found them to take up to two weeks to germinate and be slow growing after that. The fresh seeds I harvested last summer must be happier as they started germinating very quickly and look at them now!
I've lots of them as well as a few extra for a friend who was unable to start any this year.
As well, I've got Japanese Indigo sprouting. I had read that it can be difficult to germinate and fussy to keep as seedlings. I was lucky though I guess as a number of the seeds I planted germinate. I haven't tried to grow Indigo ( indigofera tinctoria ) though as we really are much colder than the required growing zone and I am not sure using the limited space in my garden is useful for that experiment. Maybe I'll be like medieval dyers and just buy my indigo. That way, my limited space will be used effectively.

Hubby's car died and he's using mine, so I'm effectively sans car for much of the time. When I get a chance, which doesn't include having to use the city bus, I'm going to pick up some row covers and start some woad seeds directly in the garden and see how that works. I know that it says you can just direct plant into the garden once the soil is workable, but this does seem like a good excuse to start playing with pushing the growing season.


  1. Were you thinking of transplanting those madder plants out under the row covers too? Might be a good idea because they get so much harder to handle when they get too big in seed pots.

    Ya know, I was just looking at the Richters site, at their special events section, and thinking that they need to have a session on natural dyeing. You and Gaerwen and Vandy and I are all qualified to offer such a thing, I think. At least to beginners. Think they'd buy it?


  2. Any tips on growing the Japanese indigo from seed would be appreciated. I have some seedlings that I've started indoors. They began looking rangey and weak. I was advised to give them some food-I used deluted fish emulsion and put out doors(cool-Northern California-high 40s to low 60s). They are holding their own, but not really looking as sturdy as I would like.

    I did successfully grew woad from seed last year AND I used it to dye some cotten-blotchy,but I don't care!
    I guess woad is considered an invasive plants in many places , but I am proud of myself nonetheless.
    I have one plant in it's second year that I hope will produce seeds. The preparation of the dye was similar to the regular indigo -it did not smell as bad as I was prepared to experience-in fact it smelled like a barnyard which to me is a pleasant smell.

  3. I believe that not only is Japanese Indigo a heavy feeder, but it also doesn't like to dry out. It's fairly hardy though, so if it's in the ground, they should catch up.

    Congrats on the woad vat! Isn't it fun to watch the colours change?