|Growing Japanese Indigo (Persicaria tinctoria)
This will be my fourth year growing indigo plants. My garden this year will have Persicaria tinctoria from two sources – my own seeds from my 2018 crop and in companion beds seeds from Rowland Ricketts. I will also be growing Indigofera tinctoria, Indigofera suffruticosa and Woad. First, here is a link to growing indigo from Rowland Ricketts – http://www.rickettsindigo.com/starting-seeds/
Here you will find lots of great information. Rowland grows his indigo in the traditional Japanese method.
Here is my method:
I plant in raised beds.
I scatter the seeds as soon as the last frost has passed. I very lightly tamp on the seeds.
And then gently water them.
This year I can tell from bird activity in my yard I am going to have to make something to scare the birds away. Last year I tied tin foil plates to string that was tied to bamboo poles stuck in the four corners of the raised beds. This worked very well!
Depending on the variety, the seeds will take 10 to 21 days to sprout.
As the seedlings develop I do not thin them out. I have found that the plants really like to be crowded.
In the beginning I do light watering daily and then as the summer heat begins the watering time becomes longer for a good soaking.
Once the plants are about 3 inches high I do foliar feeding as needed (this can be as often as every 3-4 days) by spraying the leaves with a mixture of water, neem oil and sea kelp emulsion. If I notice any bug activity I make a mixture of water, neem oil and Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap and spray this on the leaves alternating with the feed spray.
With luck the Persicaria tinctoria will give me three cuttings. I wait until the plants are between 18-24 inches in height – usually by early July and again in late August. I use these cuttings for fresh leaf dyeing and the final crop just before the first frost for the seeds. When I cut I leave approximately 3 inches of stem so the plants can continue growing.
After removing the leaves for dyeing you can also root the cuttings in water and then plant those in your garden increasing your crop size.
I am expecting the suffruticosa and tinctoria will give me one harvest, both for seeds and leaves.
The Woad is new this year so we’ll see what happens.
I hope you enjoy your indigo garden as much as I enjoy mine!!