:: Rowland & Chinami Ricketts :: indigo \ art / textiles ::
Going to seed: After the second harvest the plants are left to go to seed, as the cycle starts again.
Blossoming Indigo: Persicaria tinctoria is an annual, so in the fall it is left to go to seed for next year’s crop.
Gathering seeds: Once the seeds have matured and the plants have died back, the seed heads are gathered.
Seeds: The dried and winnowed seeds are stored over the winter for use the following spring.
Seedling bed: In early March a seedling bed is prepared and the seeds are spread densely over the surface.
Covered bed: The seeds are covered with a layer of sand and a seedling sheet and left to grow.
Seedlings: After a few weeks the seedlings are uncovered and left to grow a bit more.
Preparing to transplant: When the seedling are about 6″ tall they are pulled from the seedling bed for transplanting.
Field prep: The field is prepared with composted manure and organic fertilizer before furrows are made for the plants.
Transplanting: Five to six seedlings are placed with their roots at the bottom of the furrow and the stems are covered with dirt up to the top leaves.
Watering: Just after transplanting, the seedlings are watered in.
Fully grown: When the plants are two to three feet tall they’re ready for harvesting.
Harvesting: The indigo is cut near the base.
A second harvest: After being cut the plants grow back again and will be ready for a second harvest in 4-5 weeks.
Drying: The cut plants are spread in the sun to dry.
Indigo appearing: As the plants dry, the indigo in the leaves reveals itself, turning blue.
Winnowing: Only the leaves contain indigo, so they are winnowed from the stems by stomping.
Removing stems: The stems are removed first with a pitchfork and then by hand until just the indigio-bearing leaves are left.
Mulching stems: The remaining stems are spread back on the field as mulch.
Indigo leaves: The leaves are gathered, bagged, and stored for later composting.