As I write this, we are getting our first major snow storm of winter 2023-2024. I'm glad to see the snow. Tomorrow I'll be skiing.
This fall seemed rushed, and my Targets for Nature report is quite late. The benefit is a longer perspective, with the results not just of the garden, but of our trip to Germany and late plantings.
This summer I had a very disappointing indigo crop. Although I began with a table roughly 9' long full of last year's Persecaria Tinctoria seeds and newly purchased ones, and did my utmost keeping them hydrated in the greenhouse during an absence, I managed only a half row of the plants in the garden and none matured in time before the frost. Seeing this, I went looking for alternatives, and found some. Stoney Creek Colours, an indigo grower in Tennessee, was selling off their naturally pre-reduced indigo, and I purchased all they had! This is a liquid which gives a beautiful medium blue in an easily prepared vat with the addition of only fructose and calx (lime/calcium hydroxide). I am now able to guarantee a natural indigo dyed product, but will never again have to worry about producing a vat. I'm thrilled!!!!
My trip to Germany and to the Erfurt region resulted in the purchase of woad dye powder grown in that region. This dye powder is extracted from the leaves through a process of agitation, reduction and sedimentation, and it is 100% indigotin. In preliminary vats, I've found it to be far superior in colour intensity to my own woad, and I've been able to greatly reduce the amount of thiox (thiourea dioxide) I'm using to reduce it. I will continue my experiments when the weather gets warmer, since it is an outdoor activity. Here is a video I made about this special dye.
Some gardening successes include an abundance of weld and a huge supply of madder root (both dried for winter use). The need for biochar has increased in my dye garden, and I'm preparing to do that first thing come springtime and dry ground. I've collected a huge amount of dried brush for the purpose. I've also returned to the practice of cooking my dye plants over the outdoor fire to reduce the use of propane as a fuel. I was able to plant a large area of milkweed and tall grasses on the hill behind our house, and can't wait to see the results.
I've enjoyed some successes outside the garden as well. My application to benchmark with Textile Exchange has once again been rewarded with Level 3 (3rd year in a row!). Although the requirements were much stricter this time around, Sanctuary Innerwear has once again ranked alongside huge multinationals, and my microbusiness is on the sustainability map! In other news, our application to be considered a Managed Forest has been accepted, and we are now bound to taking care of the trees and biodiversity of our 52 acres. A personal goal along this line is to once again hear the Eastern Whippoorwill in the evenings.
I've spent the cooler days reading books (over 30 of them!) about biology, evolution, plant behaviours and benefits, and business. I've put together a presentation on my analysis of it all, including a proposal to humankind with regard to finding a reciprocal relationship with the natural world. My next post will contain more information about that, and maybe even a trailer! I've got a new website that focuses more on the benefits plants can bring us, even through our lingerie, and am concentrating on bringing these ideas to select stores and venues.
Thank you for your interest in Sanctuary Innerwear and in bringing nature to what we wear.
I'm the designer and creator of
a line of hand made clothing worn next to the skin which imparts goodness from plants through the hand-dyed and infused fabric.