My Indigo diaries 2022 – Day 24 – Planting Japanese Indigo seeds with a group of “Home” growers in Scotland

On day 24 of my Indigo diaries 2022 I feel so happy about my 1500 planted Indigo seeds so far. From growing in a raised bed in my back garden in 2021, this year I am starting growing an Indigo Plot in the Glasgow Botanical garden and that is definitively upscaling. But I am very excited about the adventure. Off course it means loosing control of the close by site, growing on a bigger scale, in different grounds… a lot of changes. But the great reward will be the sharing of the result. Leaves and dyeing will be dong in a more community level. For that reason I have put a call out for some volunteers who want to share the work and the learning. Advertised in Scotland via Social media and various groups. And 25 people have come forward. Some will help, some will grow at home.

Most of the seeds I planted back in march have germinated and are growing steadily. Strong and tall they are not yet showing their leaves but some really good green tops. An other couple of weeks I will be transplanting them into individual pots and start preparing the grounds at the Glasgow Botanical Garden. But for this i need a helping hand. I am searching for a team of volunteers who will help with the digging, planting, up keeping and then dyeing…

But in the meantime I have found a team of 21 Scottish growers who will join me on the adventure and this post is for them… They come from the 4 corners of Scotland, Mallaig, Edinburgh, Lewis, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, the Borders etc… and they are artists, nature lovers, vegetable growers, weavers, and have volunteered a little bit of space to grow Japanese Indigo alongside me. We will share notes, exchange on the process and when the leaves are ready we will learn to process the leaves to use the pigment.

This morning I have sent out to each of them 50 seeds of Persicaria Tinctoria (Japanese Indigo) of the Senbon variety. In a few days we will have an information meeting on zoom to get to know each other, talk about the project and learn about how to grow it.

But for now some basic instruction on how to plan Japanese Indigo seeds to get them to germinate:

You need:

  • Some planting trays with small holes (around 5 x 5 cms) that will sit on top of a watering trays.
  • Some planting compost
  • Some Japanese Indigo seeds (multiple of 5)
  • A light/warm corner to seat your trays for a few weeks (out of the draft)
  • Some small pots for transplanting your seeds when they are big enough to mature outside (green house/cold frame).
  • A corner in the garden with a good light space that will get a lot of sun and near a water access, Indigo likes a lot of water to grow… a lot of sunlight for pigment.

How to proceed to get germination:

1 – Add a good layer of compost into each holes of the planting tray. Use a little glass upside down to push the compost down nice and compact. Use a pencil to push down a little hole in the middle.

2 – Drop down 5 seeds together and a little compost on top. They will germinate together and grow like a bushy little plant. Japanese Indigo plant like company.

3 – Make sure the compost is kept humid but not watery. It is better to water from the underneath. I use a watering tray with something like foam under the planting tray.

4 – You seeds should germinate in anything between 5 to 12 days. Depending on how much light and how warm it is.

5 – Your seeds will then take another two to three weeks to get more mature (make sure they are watered.) and can be transferred to small pots.

6 – If your trays are sitting indoors by a window the small seedlings will grow towards the glass. I keep turning them around every couple of days to make them grow straight.

7 – Our aim is to have the seedlings strong enough to be outdoors to get stronger in May and get planted outside in the bed/pot they will en up in.

Have fund…


Published by bettysbeautifullife

I am a Christie's trained artist born in France but living in Glasgow. I work with Eco Techniques like Natural dyes, Eco Printing and Indigo dyeing using recycled material. I learn, teach and share my techniques, I work with communities and travel to Asia

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