January is when the Oxalis starts it’s annual invasion. As annoying as it can be – taking over the garden – it’s still my staple for yellow dye and a favorite with local bees. I let the bees have at it in the morning and pick after. By the time it starts dying off I’ll have a good supply of dried oxalis, enough for myself and to give away to other dyers.
Ida Grae points out that most cooking herbs will produce yellows. If I can eat or use something as a medicinal I tend not to dye with it but the Rosemary here is so plentiful it’s worth trying. Same probably goes for Lavender but I haven’t tried that yet.
*Ida Grae / Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants, 1979.
I’ve turned out to be a rather rotten blogger. I have this idea of only writing where there is something appropriate and relevant and then somehow not getting back to it for a few months.
The plants last seen around September 14 have mostly survived. Woad in porch planters were eaten by something. The Woad in the yard took off though one Weld didn’t survive. Additionally I have some more seeds in flats that will hopefully take off.
[Three Weld plants in front, the Woad nearest the tree and another Weld behind.]
[One of the Weld plants.]
Due to drought conditions – I’m in southern California – there are watering restrictions. On my street odd numbered addresses have Mon, Wed, Fri and Sunday, before 9am and later in the evening for watering. For awhile now I’ve been using dish (washing) water on the dye plants and they seem to be doing ok along some shade from the tree.
My other yellow dye staple is Oxalis, aka the Weed-that-does-not-die. That one is of course did well for it’s seasonal appearance and keep a lot of bees happy while providing me with a good supply of yellow/orange dye.
If you ever forget that parts of Southern California are desert under all the asphalt, an automotive breakdown in the San Fernando Valley will be your reminder.
Earlier in the year (after my last happy post) I woke up to one of the worst heat waves that I can recall. For a few days my local temperature beat out that of my (Pahrump,) Nevada relatives. Yay for me but parts of my garden curled up and died. Even watering before and after work didn’t save the Woad and Weld. Not being native or desert plants those two in particular did not survive the summer. Fortunately I do have seeds from last year and will try again next year. (Pictures of dead plants would be depressing so just use your imagination here.)
Cotton however did really well and I had enough for various guild friends and myself.
Some of the bolls that haven’t opened yet I bring in doors and leave in a warm spot – window, by heater, bowl near the stove – and they open later.
Found these a few days ago. First tomatoes for this season. Unfortunately I missed getting to Tomato Mania this year but one of my knitting buddies did make it and surprised us with this new plant. (Hand is in the picture to give an idea of plant size.)
Evan managed a batch of plantain salve. (Plantain the herbaceous plant not the banana.) Yay for the garden “weeds”!
The Possums are quiet this month. (And I realized that I misspelled ‘Possum’ in my last post so now my poor spelling has been advertised planet-wide…)
The Woad in a planter however still isn’t doing well though the Woad in the ground continues to flourish merrily.
Weld also growing. Hand in the 2nd picture to give an idea of the size. They are still small plants but tend to shoot up in the spring.
I start them off with a cover of hardware cloth (wire mesh) to protect from local wildlife that like to roll and dig into new beds. Just removed the cover this week since I think they are large enough to be safe.
I haven’t written for quite awhile. I seem to be wandering into various non-dye projects. As far as the dye plants go there is the ongoing collecting and drying my favorite invasive weed/dye-plant/Bee-snack – ie. Oxalis.
The woad and weld in the ground is surviving what passes for winter out here but the woad in-planter (on the porch) was nibbled down to the roots and what wasn’t eaten rolled over and died.
[woad from last year]
[new weld plants]
It’s probably not fair to blame the woad snacking on the Possums. We have a surprising variety of wild life that have adapted to city living: Racoons, Owls and Coyotes along with the Possums. Most of these aren’t seen too often unless you work really early or night shifts.
I’m still collecting Woad seeds. When the one plant that had started going to seed took off I wrapped it in a tomato cage and will continue collecting seeds as long as they appear. Also on the to-do list is to start sending out seed packets to various fellow-dyers.
My idea of an enjoyable weekend: dyed more yarn, Woad and Onion peel pots and made a batch of Plantine and Lavender salve.