Category Archives: Dye Garden

Getting back into the swing of things.

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I have to admit that I let things get away from me for a short time.  Actually nearly a year!  My dye stuff has been collecting nothing but dust, and it is ready to be put to work!  My dye garden has really come to life this summer, although I kind of forgot that several of the plants I put in are actually used only in root form.  It’s kind of a bummer only because I will have to pull out all of these beautiful plants in the fall!  However, I did have a surprising re-seeding of gypsywort, which is supposed to give a dark brown to black color.  I have yet to see actual results, so I guess once the plants are ready, we will all find out!  I also figured out that the amaranthus that I planted last year needed an extra ingredient in order to achieve the red color-it is from Hopi Red Dye seeds.  The plants themselves are really very beautiful.  Pictures will be coming soon!

Measuring the Progress of Plants

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On Saturday, I went into the garden fairly early.  It was going to be hot and humid (imagine that Minnesota!) and I wanted to make sure all of my plants were in the ground and watered before the mini heat wave came.  Then another bright idea came to me.  I would measure the growth of some of my dye plants to see their growth weekly.  Plus, seeing their growth would allow me to understand how these plants grow, the rate at which they grow, etc.

These are my first measuresments taken on Saturday, June 9th.  The next measurements will be on Saturday, June 16th.  Plants with an * by them were planted by seed.

Anyway, on with the show:

Gypsywort 4.5”
Indigo,   False 9.75”
Dyer’s   Knotweed 8.75”
Dyer’s   Broom 10.75”
Indigofera 2.5”
Baptista   Australis 3”
Amaranthus   Hopi Red Dye #1* 3.5”
#2* 1.5”
#3* 2.75”
Woodruff* 1.5”
Safflower   #1* 8.5”
#2* 7.5”
#3* 9”

Daffodils Spring Forth Yellow

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Daffodils Spring Forth Yellow

On a recent trip to my parents home, my husband cut down a few trees, trimmed a few trees, and I was the beneficiary of plant material that I will use in my dyeing experiments!

One tree that was cut down was a silver maple.  The tree had just burst with seeds, those fun little helicopters that have entranced children for ages.  (Okay, I am also amazed by them and could watch them fall from the sky for hours).  I grabbed handfuls of the seed bunches and piled them into my paper grocery bag.

I also collected daffodils that had been smashed by falling tree limbs and branches.  There weren’t too many, but I was able to gather a few more the following weekend when the daffodils were at the end of their bloom time.  My first batch of flowers had been soaking for a week, and I simply added the new flowers in.  I didn’t add anymore water because I had added too much the first time.  I brought the dye batch to a slow simmer and allowed it to simmer for 35 minutes.  I don’t really know how I came up with 35 minutes, but it is all an experiment with me!

Instead of throwing out the mushy leftovers from the daffodil dye bath, I decided to use the vase full of dyeing daffodils (did I mention my mom has a plethora of daffodils in her yards?).  I plucked off the flower heads and added them to the dye pot as well.  I have to admit that the mushy daffodils looked a little like cat vomit, but at least it didn’t smell like it!  I added cold water to the dye pot and will bring it to a slow simmer for 30 minutes (experimenting once again!).

As much as I would love to report the colors I achieved on wool, I cannot.  My next experiment is going to be in using roving to dye and then spin the yarn.  Did I mention that I have never spun wool before?  I am teaching myself with a drop spindle.  I might just end up taking a class at Silver Creek Cabin, a yarn store in Buffalo, MN.

My next post will hopefully contain some results from the helicopters and daffodils.  Cross your fingers as I am crossing mine!

All Boxed In

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All Boxed In

Have I mentioned that my husband is amazing?  Not only has he taught all of us so much about the world around us, but he was willing to give up his day off to help me build my garden boxes.  In all reality, if he wouldn’t have helped me, I would have ended up with boards strewn across the lawn.  Our yard would have been a HUGE mess!  There are reasons that I really enjoy dyeing, rug hooking and doing punch needle–it is done without instruction and ends up with differing results.

Anyway, we went to work last Friday buying pressure treated lumber from Menards.  We actually fit it all in the Pacifica.  (While we were loading the lumber, I just had to mention how I have always wanted a truck).  We brought everything back and went to work.  We were cutting sod, digging up masses of clay, several sand bar willow roots (doing a silent cheer) and quite a few worms.

Here stands our lone obstacle in creating our boxes, an evergreen tree we got from the Minnesota State Fair two years ago!

 

This is our first completed box!!!  I can’t wait to fill it up with some soil!  And then it will be time to fill ‘er up with flowers and other plants!!!!  Hopefully my excitement for this project will be part of the food that nourishes all of these plants and flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

We were onto the final two boxes.  Mitch, (my wonderful hubby) and I were concerned about cutting into the roots of the Pin Oak.  I really didn’t want my project to kill the oak tree, especially since the Pin Oak is Mitch’s favorite tree in the backyard.

 

 

I convinced Mitch to stop for the night and have some  pizza.  We could finish tomorrow!

 

 

And that we did.  Well, he did most of the work as I am just not adept at these sort of things.  I often believe that I can do things by myself without help, but this was one project there is NO WAY I was going to be able to do on my own.

Here they are!  Our completed projects all level and squared!  Now, I have to wait until I can have some garden soil delivered from Mill Pond(I found out this morning that day will be Wednesday).  Then I can fill up the boxes with some soil.  I cannot wait to see the results!!!!

Let the Games Begin!

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Let the Games Begin!

Today is the start of something beautiful.  I am going to start planting my seeds with the help of my wonderful assistants, Emily, Jason and Lanie.  We’ll see how long they help out, but they sound really excited to help!  I have decided to do a few experiments while creating my dye garden.  I am using two different seed starting mediums, made by two different companiesMiracleGro and Schultz, both bought at Menards.  I am also going to try out peat pots in different sizes as well as more traditional plastic black pots.  I think it will be interesting to see if the more expensive MiracleGro helps seeds have a better start then the less expensive Schultz seed starter.  It will also be interesting to see how the plants do with peat pots as opposed to plastic pots.  How much can I actually control all of the variables that go into this?  This isn’t a serious experiment, but more of a casual interpretation of how I used variety to obtain different results.

One of my first purchases with my Kickstarter project was seeds from the Woolery.  I purchased gipsywort (black), henna (red), dyer’s woodruff, indigo (blue), safflower/false saffron (red to yellow), amaranthe (red), bugloss/alkanet (red), lady’s bedstraw (red).   I bought the rest of my seeds from Menards.  Many of these I have researched on various sites and in books about natural dyeing, but some will be experiments.  We’ll see what colors they make and if they are a dye that will stick.  My list of seeds include carrots kaleidoscope mix, true lavender, red giant mustard, spearmint, common sage, rosemary, detroit dark beet, purple coneflower, foxglove, hollyhock, butterfly weed, scabiosa, zinnia, sunflower, sweet pea and envy zinnia.  The seeds all come from Burpee, bought from Menards.

I will be including an update after my helpers come inside from our gorgeous Minnesota, March 18th weather at 70 degree plus!