Garden Update: July 2017
My garden is three months old. *sniffle* I can't believe how fast its grown up!
This post will be a ton of before and after photos.
There was a huge heat wave mid June to mid July and wow did the indigo take off! Also planted in the rear are cosmos and coreopsis, which are about 5 feet tall. Black hopi sunflowers are planted in the back and along the East side, they vary in age and height.
Indigo was grown inside from seedling form starting in March. Persicaria tinctoria is the variety I selected, but I also tested out Polygonum tinctorium. The second type is substantially slower growing and research yielded that it is also a lower grade indigo plant and contains less indotin.
Indigo has been my favorite plant to grow. It was fast to germinate and very forgiving.
I planted around 30 plants in two waves. Spring was very unpredictable and I was worried the cold would get the babies, and it did. The first wave got hit hard, see photos here, but they all came back!
I didn't think they'd survive, so when I planted the second wave I planted the seedlings next to what I thought were dead plants and direct sowed the Ploygonum variety of indigo....it never came up but all the Persicaria seedlings came back. It was very impressive.
I was proud when the plants started growing larger. Indigo has a parent stalk, sends out feeder roots and more stalks pop off. This is why each plant needs 1 sq ft space. WHICH IS A LOT! But seriously give it to your plant, it will need it ALL.
This photo from end of May shows off the growing pattern really well.
Besides giving your plants the full amount of space they require, ALWAYS give them lots of fertilizer. When I tilled my bed at the start of the season I poured in 4 gallons of compost. Plants grew at a normal seed, but then they started turning neon green and red....RED!
LOOK AT THAT! Well, I thought it was cool at first, then I did some research. The red and light color of the leaves symbolize stress. Specifically mal-nutrition. Even though I dumped a lot of compost in my plot it was still mineral deficient, lacking in nitrogen specifically. Which is so weird because the pH of the soil was completely neutral, I tested it in like 10 locations.
So I called a friend and got some more compost, about 50-100 gallons. Low and behold, one month later we have very little red left and the leaves are turning a nice green.
Since there is still a little red and the leaves have about two inches left to grow I'm going to spray them with my fish emulsion. YUM! This will hopefully get rid of all the red, bring out the deep green hue in the leaves, and give me a better crop! A stressed plant yields a lesser indigo quality. And we don't want that!
According to Graham Keegan, a fantastic indigo grower and dyeing, indigo leaves should be 7 inches long for harvesting. None of mine are close, the longest ones, located about 1.5 inches from the top are (as you can see below) 4.5 inches.
Hopefully I can harvest in the beginning of September or end of August and then again in October or early November. Fingers crossed for two harvests!