February 19, 2013

Indigo Update

The indigo plants had grown twice as fast after my first harvest in the middle of January. It could be the warmer weather we have had this month and the seaweed fertilizer I have been feeding them, but whatever the reason, the plants seemed to thrive. I thought it was time to prune them again. I cut off most of the branches and left the remaining shoots hoping that they would give me more leaves in the near future. I've kept one plant untouched for seeds. 

I won't be processing them the same way I did last time  here, but instead I will dry them and wait for the next harvest and process them together. In the mean time I'd better do some research on how best to deal with the dried indigo!

Before photo of the indigo plants. The leaves are starting to have a blue tint on them. I can almost feel that the blue dye would jump at me when I touch it!

First step I pruned the branches and stacked them in my laundry basket. Unfortunately it was a hot day so I had to work fast. Next I gathered the branches and tied them into a bundle with raffia. Now they are ready to hang out to dry. 

The roof of the garage is made of corrugated iron. It's perfect for drying anything. I tied the bundles on a pole to stop them from being blown away by the wind. This photo was taken just after midday when I placed the bundles to dry. 

I checked them around 5:00 pm and because it was a very hot day all the top part of the bundles had completely dried. I turned the bundles over and left them for another hour.

I'm glad I threaded the bundles on the pole because at the end of the day I just lifted the pole and the bundles off the roof. I left them hanging overnight knowing that it wasn't going to rain (I hoped!).

Before I left for work in the morning I moved the pole with the bundles hanging from it into the garage just in case it decided to rain, but I doubted that it would. By this stage the indigo leaves were really crisp and fragile. I don't know what I will do with them next. I'm thinking I will ferment them! I know I don't have nearly enough for the batch, but I would love to try and have a first hand experience of stinking fermentation indigo! If all else fails, I would have a photo to share on my blog! Also I must say I have been enjoying growing my own indigo plants. Everything I have heard about indigo is mysterious and secretive, but now that I have actually grown and process my own indigo plants I can move on and tick that off from my to do list.

Still on indigo, Jacky and I are forming a team and will be giving an indigo workshop in March. The first workshop is set for Saturday March 16th. If you want more details please leave me a comment with your email and I will get back to you with the workshop information. 

Until next time



deanna7trees said...

wow. you sure did gather lots of leaves. can't wait to see the next chapter of this story.

Needled Mom said...

The dried leaves look fabulous. I wonder if I could grow them in our area. It intrigues me. I can't wait to see the next stage of the process.

Nedra said...

It has been so interesting to learn from you the process of dying with indigo. I think of you everytime I see Indigo fabric!

Sujata Shah said...

What a beautiful process. Home grown dyes have so much more meaning to them. I am looking forward to seeing new patterns of your hand dyed fabrics.
Wish I lived near you to take your class.

Jeannie said...

The indigo grows taller than I had expected and that is quite a bunch you have drying! Looking forward to seeing what a fermentation vat does. Isn't experimenting and learning fun?!

Terry said...

the plants sure did enjoy the weather. Our garden has grown rapidly also must be something in the air.
The harvesting was interesting and as you say now you are ready for the next step. Whatever that may be.

Robyn G. said...

Hello Nat :)
Gosh this sounds like a really interesting process... I've never heard of indigo plants so I'm excited to know they exist.
Dyeing is on my 'one day' list... thanks heaps for the info.

I read on Ria's blog you are making some baskets... look forward to seeing what else you're up to :)

Robyn xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Natima,
Sounds very interesting.

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Wow Nat I don't know much at all about the indigo plant but it all sounds very interesting...Good on you for having a go!

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Wow Nat I don't know much at all about the Indigo Plant...all very interesting to read!

Janet said...

I can't wait until we get to see some dying after you've nurtured the plants and dried them off. It look like an exciting endevour.

joni cornell said...

Would love to join you for the workshop Nat

Peggy said...

Amazing, just amazing. I grew some last summer and the plants didn't fill out nearly this much, not even close. Wow. This is going to be so interesting -- thanks for sharing the process and how cool that you Jacky are giving a workshop. Wish I was there. :) xxx

Tracy said...

This is fascinating, Nat! You unfold the mystery of indigo for us. The fresh as well as dried plants just look so beautiful. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

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