Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dye Garden

source: Atticmag
As spring draws closer, I always start to feel anxious to get the gardens started. I really do need to wait. I know. But, I can put my pent up eagerness to work in planning. This year, we're hoping to expand the garden. Lately, I keep putting in more and more perennial flowers. I've crowded out all the viable room for our veggies. So, we're going to add beds for veggies, as usual. This year however, I plan on starting a dye garden. What is that you ask? Most fibers are dyed with synthetic acid dyes. I am deeply interested in natural dyes, sourced from weeds sustainable plants. 

Source: Eden Brothers
I want to own my art- and the production of it- from start to finish. Now, I have no plans on adding sheep. Not yet anyway. But, I have started purchasing wool from neighbors who have wool breeds. I think I'll always need merino for scarves and wearables, but for other forms, rougher local wools work great- even better! All this leads me to the acid dyes I use. Not friendly. And made in a chem lab. From my understanding, some of the plants in a dye garden need several years to establish themselves. So, it's time to get this going!

Here's my running list, as it's March and I'm feeling ambitions. 
Japanese Indigo
False Indigo
Purple Basil
St. John's wort
And... I have plenty of ragweed, walnut trees, and other wild species I can cultivate. 
I'm pretty excited... and can't wait to get this going. I plan on starting most of this from seed, which means I can get going in just a matter of weeks. Wish me well!


  1. Well as they say good luck.Could you tell me what is the difference between Japanese indigo and False indigo.Thank you.

  2. Well Ella, this natural dye stuff is new to me. As far as my understanding goes, Japanese indigo (Polygonum tinctorium), or dyer's knotweed, is a bushy plant that grows well here in the US as an annual in my zone.

    False indigo (Baptisia australis) is a native plant, shrubby and quite pretty, like a sweet pea. It also gives blue dye. I am growing both this year.

  3. Thank you for the information.