Monday, March 19, 2012

Soaking and Sowing

Another incredibly gorgeous early spring day (last day of winter, technically)! I worked outside doing "prep" work for the real work (and fun!) that will follow later.

I had been researching sources of tannin for pretreating cotton fabric for natural dyeing. I learned from a fellow natural dyer on the Yahoo Natural Dyes group, that oak bark and oak leaves are a source, in addition to oak galls, which is what the books recommend. This is good news to me, since the leaves and bark are readily available, here, where I live. I filled two 5 gallon buckets half filled with oak leaves in one and oak bark in the other. Filled with water, covered and will let sit for a week or so before straining and adding cotton cloth.

I spent most of the afternoon sowing seeds in trays. Bob just finished building a large cold frame over one of the raised garden beds. It is like a mini greenhouse! I sowed Asian eggplants, basils, tomatoes, woad, calendula, okra, hollyhocks, nicotiana, tithonia and several more seeds. The okra and hollyhocks will be a source of fiber for papermaking as well as a source of formation aid. The woad, calendula and hollyhock flowers are being grown for dye. The nicotiana is for the hummingbirds and the tithonia for the monarch butterflies. Lastly, the eggplants, basils and tomatoes are for dinner!

I should add that the okra, calendula and nicotiana are old seeds (at least six years old), so very well may not be viable.  It is an experiment, just like everything I do. The way to learn is by trying out an idea, often thinking "what if", making observations and taking note.

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