Wednesday, 26 August 2009

I couldn't resist another lotus picture. A few years back I snapped a picture of a bee in the lotus. The image was strong but the bee was ever so slightly out of focus and I couldn't use it. This morning I was lucky enough to get this visitor with a camera on hand! She may not be completely in focus but getting closer.

Indigo seeds are small shiny and black. The husk holds fast and winnowing by rubbing between your palms takes time. I plant 5 seeds in each compartment of a seedling tray in early April. Using the best soil I make from my kitchen compost and leaf compost combined. By mid-June the seedlings should be ready to transplant at 50 cm intervals. If the weather cooperates you can harvest the leaves three times sometimes four times a season. The most time consuming method is to strip the leaves off the fresh stems so they come off easily. Dry the leaves in the sun for two days and hang them in a dry place until winter to start a slow three month compost to reduce the leaf matter and leave the pigment and good bacteria for later fermentation in the indigo vat. Time and weather always play a role. It is best to harvest indigo during a good streak of weather so that the indigo pigment percentage in the leaves is high and you have ample time to dry so that the leaves don't mould. This year looks like I'll get three good harvests. Instead of winter composting I am composting the leaves fresh from the garden for two weeks. When the ammonia smell is almost unbearable I'll add the blue compost to ash water, add some sugar and ferment it into a traditional Japanese indigo vat. So easily said...

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