Monday, May 27, 2013

In the garden.

One of my goals this year was to learn how to grow things. I thought I was a plant killer because everything I tried to grow in a cute little pot in my room always shriveled up and died. :) We always have a garden, but it had mostly been my parents' thing. This year I've been trying to be a bit more involved, though. And since I've been on this obsessive fiber/yarn/spinning/knitting kick this year, I wanted to grow some herbs that I could use to dye yarn naturally.
There are several plants native to the area that grow everywhere in our area (like staghorn sumac and pokeberry) that I can use, but I also wanted to plant a few things. I ordered several packs of dyeing herb seeds from Pinetree: indigo, golden marguerite, black hollyhock, and hopi red dye amaranth. {I also got lavender, not for dyeing but because I like the way it smells. And my parents ordered some fennel, which can be used for dyes.}
We started quite a few of our seeds in our little greenhouse, and I've enjoyed taking care of them. I love going out in the morning to see if anything has changed overnight! :) Because yes...things are growing! It's a miracle. :) I still don't think that I have a green thumb, though. I think it's because we're using homemade compost and worm tea.
{By the way, I originally wrote this post and took the photos over a week ago. Since then, we had several days of rain and things really shot up. So some of the pictures are before the rain, some are after.}
I was most excited about indigo. It's a source of blue dye, which is important because there are no plants native to North America that result in blue dye. But indigo loves hot, sunny weather. Even though I started the seeds in the greenhouse, they weren't doing much at all. But lately we've had some hot weather, and all of a sudden the indigo has practically doubled in height! I planted the other half of the seeds a week ago, so I'm hoping they'll be more successful since it's warmer now.

This is my golden marguerite. Or the bottom two left ones are, anyway...I think the others are weeds. {The only problem with the compost is that sometimes it grows grass and weeds, too.} I love how intricate the little leaves are. These were in the greenhouse, but a week or two ago, we planted the rest out in the garden. (Since writing this post, I planted these two into the garden, too. The golden marguerite seeds we planted in the garden apparently aren't doing anything.)

These were planted directly into the garden: hopi red dye amaranth. They make (of course) red dye, and apparently the leaves and seeds are edible. I was so excited when I saw these dark reddish-burgundy plants growing. I'm not very good at plant identification, but it's easy to tell that these aren't weeds. :)

We planted zinnia seeds in between our herb groups. They'll be pretty flowers, but they can also be used for dyeing.

My black hollyhock! These by far did the best of all my plants. They sprung up the quickest in the greenhouse, and every single one of the nine that were planted survived. Unfortunately I won't be able to dye with these this year...they're biennial and won't bloom until next year. (After the rain, I couldn't believe these. You probably can't tell, but the leaves practically doubled in size over a day or two.)

I also planted some lavender. It took forever to come up, but now that it's a couple of inches tall, it already smells like lavender! I was so excited when I noticed that. {No, I don't go around sniffing plants. Well, maybe just the herbs.}

We did start other things from seed besides herbs. :) These are some tomato plants we started in the greenhouse. (They've since been moved from the greenhouse into the garden.)

Swiss chard and cucumbers...

And squash and zucchini. I can't believe that we actually planted these as seeds, and look at them now.

They were transplanted into one of the two high tunnels that my dad put up this year.

My dad also planted lots of other vegetables that I don't have pictures of...lots of lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, carrots, peppers, etc.

I'm very excited to try to dye yarn this year! Of course I'll blog about it when I finally get to do some experimenting. Right now I'm just waiting for things to grow. I've bought two big enamel kettles (but could still use a couple more), alum, iron mordant, and a hot plate, but I still have a few more supplies I need to find.

Have you ever dyed yarn? What are you growing in your garden this year?

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. woah! I'm starting a garden. Slowly. For my first time I have one tomato plant and an eggplant! tee hee


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