Woad Woes, Indigo and Some Bragging

My poor woad.  Through a combination of nasty soil and an overly-friendly cat, I have only one really healthy plant remaining.  Norman gave up a few weeks ago, Stanley is about to join him in the big vat in the sky, and Claire, Jingles, and Bobo aren’t looking too good.  Ol’ blue eyes Frank, at least, is growing like mad.


I’m not sure if it will be worth it to try dyeing anything much with only one plant’s worth of leaves, so I think I’m going to harvest as much as I can from the other four, plus Frank, and make a woad ball or two over the summer, and see what I can do with them next year.  Which means, alas, I’m stuck with purchased indigo.  Oh, well.

I don’t have to give up on my plans to try a fermentation vat, even though it’s not my own dye plants, so I started that this evening.  I followed approximately these directions with the only exception being that I used some old indigo stock solution instead of fresh powder.

Indigo Vat s

I have no idea if it will work, but I have all that ginger beer brewing experience now, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Indigo Detail

And now, I can’t help bragging about my garden for a minute.  It’s tiny and insignificant, but I love it all the same.  First up on the brag-roll are tomatoes.  After some other seeds failed to come up, I planted two tomato plants, and they have grown up and are just starting to flower.


Next the sugar snap peas that I made the netting for back in May.  They (and my netting) have been a complete success and are now taller than the fence and give me a few peas to munch on every couple of days.

Sugar Snap Pea

Last of all are my favourites, sweet peas grown from seed.  I’m rarely in the garden this time in the evening, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I turned the corner to see the sun just coming over the roofs of the houses across the street and lighting up my sweet peas from behind.  They were glowing.  It was gorgeous.  I took pictures, but you really don’t get the full effect.

Sweet Pea

Isn’t that amazing?  The other thing I can’t share with you is the smell that comes off these babies.  Pure flowery sweetness.

Sweet Peas

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3 Responses to “Woad Woes, Indigo and Some Bragging”

  1. Batty Says:

    People have been using woad for so long… how hard can it be?

    Yeah, I know… famous last words before embarrassing things happen… I can’t wait to see how it turns out, the deep, dark blue looks promising!

  2. drunkenbumblebee Says:

    Just happened to write a blog entry about my peas, and it showed me this entry as being related. and it is! i have some woad seed that i saved last year, i can send you some if you like. i also studied textile art in college, i run a lil farm now. i love your photos! i have been growing indigo and woad for a couple years now but sadly have been to lazy to make a vat…anyway, nice blog!

  3. Hrist Says:

    Why, thank you! I’ve had some fun finding related blogs myself 🙂 Fortunately it did recover enough that I did a vat or two last summer, and I’ve still got tons of the original seed from my friend – I’ve already planted a bunch, though it hasn’t sprouted yet. Now I just need some weld, maybe a bit of madder . . .

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