It’s been a long time since I’ve done any Woad processing – or growing. Two years of drought wiped out my front yard patch. One of my fellow SoCal Handweavers guildmates gave me some starter plants that you see in the lower left.
I’ve used both Indigo and Woad in powdered form but never processed my own plants. Given my limited garden space it’s unlikely I’ll be able to grow enough for all my dye needs but I still like to grow as much as I’m able and understand the process a bit better.
First year woad plant. From what I’ve read Woad is a bi-annual plant. You get the dye from the first year leaves and your seeds the second year. And, that you can’t get dye the second year. I haven’t tested this out (yet) so anyone correct me if I’m wrong.
New Woad plants for next year.
Chopping and then stewing or steeping the Woad.
Mixing in the Ammonia to oxygenate.
Waiting around for the particles….(in my case about 3 days). Reading directions for Woad processing it can sound like you see particles settling in 15 minutes or an hour or two. In my case it was more like 3 days to a week. I posted to the Yahoo Woad group to see if I was doing anything incorrectly and got back very helpful replies. In some cases the particle settling phase takes a bit longer.
Finally..shadow on the bottom of the jar is Woad particles I’m waiting for. (Few days more)
I don’t know how official this is but most people I know consider “Labor Day” – which in the US falls on the first monday of September – as the end of summer. I ended my summer with a Woad vat. The wool is my SCHG challenge recycling/upcycling project.
Starting from the left: Woad overdye Hibiscus (yellow); Woad overdye onion peel (orange-yellow); Woad multi-dipped; Woad one dip.
I had hoped to grow my own Woad but as it turned out I was growing Weld. (Oh don’t ask, so much for my plant identification skills…)
This Woad was purchased in powder from from Woad Inc in the UK. The All About Woad site has really excellent directions and also sells Woad dye and kits.
Besides the dye plants (my project) there is the family vegetable garden. Most years we get a supply of dried tomatoes and soup beans. This year we tried growing corn. Besides what was eaten fresh and given away we have dried corn (soup, cornbread, etc.).
[dried -> ground -> corn bread]
And the first boll on my cotton shrub just started opening.
Eat corn bread, contemplate the Woad vat, not a bad ending for the summer.
This is embarrassing. It’s what happens when you grow a plant that you have never actually observed from seed to dye pot. The Woad I thought I was growing is really Dyer’s Weld. Yellow not blue. More yellow. A really good, clear Lemon yellow but still more yellow.
Before it began to bloom it could have been either.
However, as it blossomed it became obvious that the plant I had was not what I thought it was. Checked every image I could find including the Druid Plant Oracle and I definitely was not growing Woad.
So I’ve got Weld, Dyer’s Weld. Nice looking plant. The bees seem to like it. Works on wool (protine fibers – so not cotton).
Southern California is experiencing the usual drought conditions and never having liked or wanted a lawn I’ve been slowly extending the kitchen herb garden out from the front of the porch and over what would be lawn. This eliminates lawn and leaves more room for Lavendar and Basil to run rampant. For watering I’ve been dumping my dish water and any reasonable gray water so the lavendar, sage, basil, woad and sundry odd herbs are thriving inspite of the dry spells.
Obviously one Woad plant won’t dye too much but I plan to save some seeds for next season. It’s also been interesting seeing how it grows. Nice looking plant.
Around the time that the Oxalis was dying off the Fennel seemed to take off. It looks like I won’t be scavenging the Smart-&-Final parking lot or sides of freeways for Fennel this year. The backyard stand – now too large to be called a shrub – is producing enough to keep me in dye and local insects in food.
Also here, my first attempt at growing Woad. There are 2 plants, still in pots. One seems to have some Sweet Basil growing along side – probably from some other planting. They are about 6” across right now. I’m not sure how fast these grow but it is unlikely there will be blue dye until next season.