Well it has been a busy month at the dye garden. With a few key working sessions we have loaded up the beds with soil and been planting out our seedlings.
The seedlings were looking ready but it has been a cold to hot scenario this year in Wales with everything about 3-4 weeks behind the normal growing season. This has been making it hard to know when is the right time. But ultimately we had to take the plunge! In the image below you can see some of our seedlings ready for planting out including: Japanese Indigo, Coreopsis, Calendula and Cosmos.
As our soil arrived on Friday we organised small working parties each day of the weekend to get our compost and top soil transfered from bags to beds. This was a great success with teams working quickly and efficiently to get everything layered and moved. Since we are working on a layered 'lasagna' type structure for the contents of our raised beds we have also added straw and in a couple tiered beds fleece! These are 2020 fleeces that had not yet been used and we thought since shearing is upon us we could easily use these to help build up nice soil structure in our beds. We will see. We know which beds they are in so if the plants are extra healthy in these beds we will be implementing it at the start of every season!
Images - Left: 1 of 5 big bags delivered. Right: A jacob fleece added to our 'lasagna'.
You can see in the images above that we have also started to add our other keg planters to the garden. We have a few of this made by halving the kegs, finishing the edges and then planting them up with nice smelling perennial herbs like thyme, rosemary and lavender. The middle layers of our beds are a nice compost and then topped with top soil. Most of our dye plants are 'well drained soil' for 'full sun'. So this should be a nice balance for the beds.
Other than dye plants we are aiming to include plants that are useful for either eco-dyeing or to attract our pollinators. So a buddleja (butterfly bush) has been recently added, as well as a dwarf continus (smoke bush). These will help to complement the fruit trees and the herb plants mentioned above. As the dye plants start to flower am sure the pollinators will be happy. Our shrubs are small at the moment but they will grow and fill in with time.
With all the lifting and shifting done we were finally ready for some plants. Most of the plants went in spaced about 30-50cm apart to fill either quarter or half sections of each bed. The raised beds are for our 'crops' so we are aiming to grow a good quantity of each. To the right you can see our Persicaria Tinctoria aka Japanese (Long Leaf) Indigo. Unlike the other plants with have 'scatter' planted these and given them a bit less spacing. After reading the entry from Nature's Rainbow website that mentioned how they like a bit of competition. We have found their website very insightful and will be reading more about their indigo hot and cold extraction methods as we get closer to harvesting the leaves later in the year. The link to this page on highlighted above.
Things left to do this month ... are monitoring of the other seedlings and getting our rain water supply sorted out so that the garden can become more self-sufficient. We are on our way and are soooo appreciative of all those who have helped to date with information, energy and support. Thank you all / Diolch yn fawr.