Last year was my first effort at growing Japanese indigo in northern Wisconsin. That’s if you don’t count the year before, when I threw a few seeds at a small patch of bare dirt sometime in June. Nothing Jack And The Beanstalk-y happened then. But a little more effort produced magic in 2015. So it’s normal to want more in 2016, right?
Since the seed is a bit pricey, I was hoping to save seed from the plants I grew last summer. But they got a late start (are you sensing a theme here), and we have a short growing season.
When frost threatened in September, I dug up the plants and moved them into my studio so students in my October Natural Dye Retreat at Sievers would have a chance to dye with fresh leaves. At that point, I had given up on the notion that these plants would have time to blossom, let alone set seed.
But after a little benign neglect, when I got home from Sievers the plants I had left behind were starting to blossom. So the plan changed again. Did I mention that the seed is pricey?
I kept the plants in my studio until the week after our annual studio sale in mid-November. After that, we moved them into the house while I spent three weeks in Florida helping my parents.
By the time I got home, I was so tired and far behind on everything that I didn’t even look closely at the plants for a couple of weeks. But lo and behold, there were seeds tucked into some of those blossoms. I let the blossoms dry, and have been sorting them out and getting them packaged.
For 2016, I’ll have more seeds than I had in 2015. But germination rates were not great on the seeds I bought, and I don’t know how much better it will be with the seeds I’m saving. So I’m trying to decide whether to sacrifice some seeds to do a germination test. If I do that now and my germination rate is poor, I should still have time to order seeds to supplement the ones I saved.
Somehow, germination testing reminds me of swatching for a knitting project. What would you do?