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so... gardening - when you don't know what to do...
do the next thing
tashabear
tashabear
so... gardening
Wolfie went out and razed the front yard this morning, and we both went out this evening and started tidying.  I pulled up a bunch of stuff and picked up some of the stems Wolfie hacked off.  I'll grab a rake this week and really give the yard a good going-over.  I want to dig up all the bushes and till everything under, and then lay down a layer of good soil and plant some dye plants.

This is a big thing for me, because I Hate Yardwork.  No, really.  I'll split and haul a cord of wood before I'll mow the lawn.  But I want the yard to look nice(r), and since there's no Magic Yardwork Fairy, it's up to us.  And since I refuse to put forth that much effort and get nothing out of it, I want dye plants.  (I would not want to eat anything grown in my front yard.)  I've narrowed it down to:
 
PlantDye colors
Hollyhockmauve, purples
Coreopsisyellows, greens
Dyer's Coreopsisyellow, gold, brown
Hardy hibiscus (Rose mallow)reds, purples
St John's Wortgreen, red, purple, yellow
Madderreds
Comfreygreens

That should give me a wide enough range of colors yielded to be interesting.  They all like sunny soil and a couple thrive on neglect, too, so I'm liking that. Several are annuals, but you can collect the seeds and save them for next year, so that's okay. Seeds aren't that expensive, anyway. I can also get a composting bin from the city if I get really crazy and decide to compost as well.

I've never grown anything in my life. I like animals better than plants because they complain louder when they need something. Plants are all passive-aggressive and just wilt and die rather than actually do anything to get your attention. This should be an interesting experiment. If all else fails, I'll plant a hardy, likes-to-be-ignored-and-will-grow-in-anything ground cover and call it a day. I'd love to put in a raised bed by the back door, but as Wolfie pointed out, that's where we pile snow in the winter. Maybe we can figure something out...

i feel: bored bored

7 trips or shoot the rapids
Comments
spotweld From: spotweld Date: July 25th, 2004 03:58 pm (UTC) (base camp)
I'm surprised you don't have saffron. Isn't that the classic source for yellow dye? Or is really difficult to grow in these parts?
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 25th, 2004 06:06 pm (UTC) (base camp)
It's not that... it's that you use just the stamens, and it takes so very much to make a decent dyebath. I'd need a whole field of it, and the yard is about 6'x10'. I thought about safflower, but there were some growing issues that didn't fit in with my ignore-it philosophy.
skorzy From: skorzy Date: July 25th, 2004 04:09 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Isn't Pokeberry used in indigo dyeing? I see those weeds all OVER the place out here.
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 25th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Technically, no. Indigo is used in indigo dyeing, and it like a hotter climate than we have here (think India). Woad likes our temperate climate more than indigo does, and it also contains indigotin, but at a lower concentration. The problem with woad is that is propagates like crazy, and is illegal in several states because it's classified as a noxious weed. It's legal here in Massachusetts, but I also don't want something that will choke out everything else.

Pokeberries can be used in dyeing, though, and I've read that it yields colors from bright fuschia to magenta to raspberry, depending on the concentration of berries and the acidity of the dyebath. Apparently if you overdye with indigo, you get purples (indigo is alkaline). There's an interesting article here (http://www.hillcreekfiberstudio.com/Resrch&Wrtngs.html at the bottom of the page) about how to make some really astonishing and colorfast dyes with pokeberries and acetic acid solution.

The other thing I'm trying to stick with is plants that are also found in Europe. That way, when I use the dyes for the SCA, I'm that much closer to accuracy. Are pokeberries also native to Europe, do you know? I'd not be averse to trying them, but I'd rather gather in the wild than cultivate them.
sandthistle From: sandthistle Date: July 25th, 2004 06:46 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Tasha, if you send me your snailmail in email (steinway1 at aol.dot com), I'll send you St. John's Wort plants. Mine are HUGE, and I have to thin them out BIG TIME. Better they grow in someone's garden than become compost... Consider it a wedding present :)
tashabear From: tashabear Date: July 25th, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC) (base camp)
I'm not ready to plant anything, but I can always use the plants to make dyes now. It's actually the most versatile of the dyeplants; if you put mordanted asnd unmordanted skeins into the pot in the right order you get like four colors.

I'll be emailing you about that and about the class!
thewolfwalker From: thewolfwalker Date: July 26th, 2004 12:12 pm (UTC) (base camp)

Off Topic, but...

This is a little off-topic. My apologies, as I couldn't find your email or another contact.

I'm the webminister for the Incipient Shire of Redewolfden in Meridies, and I'm currently building on our Links page. I was wondering if you'd mind too terribly much if I included a link to your Ger page on there. Would that be okay?

Thank you :)

-- Fann
7 trips or shoot the rapids