May 15, 2020 49 Comments
The seedlings in my seed bed are getting big, and are now ready to transplant out in my garden. This week my area of Indiana is (mostly) past the risk of frost. After checking the weather for the week, my studiomate Jean Haley (jeanhaleydesign.com) came out to help me transplant my indigo into 4 furrowed rows in my garden. The transplanted seedlings look small now, but they will get much, much bigger throughout the season. Each time they get cut, they will fill out more. So I make sure there is plenty of room for them to grow.
The best time of day for transplanting is before 1pm and after 5pm. If it's not too hot or sunny, it doesn't matter much. Even if it is, as long as you keep the roots wet and water your plants well as you plant them, they will do fine.
I plant roughly 5-10 seedlings in a grouping (just to give you an idea, I don't actually count them out). I water my seed bed really well before I begin. The plants might be knocked over by watering, but they'll pop back up.
Side note: When planting seeds, some people like to add a layer of sand to the top of the soil, especially if the soil is very sticky/has a lot of clay. This way, when it's time to dig them up, it's easier to unearth the plants without breaking up the roots. I always forget this step, and I find it works just fine without sand.
In the garden, I like to plant my indigo clumps about 12-18 inches apart. Bury them all the way up to the first leaves. Pour a couple cups of water on them as you go, or make sure to water them well with a hose when you're done.
Side note: Persicaria tinctoria have stolons, which means it will grow "adventitious roots," or roots from nodes of the stem above ground. So it will grow and root horizontally as well as grow tall vertically. It's something to keep in mind as the season progresses. I put a decent space between the rows for this reason.
In my roughly 40 ft. rows, we transplanted a total of 113 plant clumps.
Now it's just a matter of time. If things go according to plan, in about a month, I'll be harvesting and extracting my first batch of indigo.
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For the next month: I will be making sure my plants don't get dried out (which usually isn't a problem until later in the summer), and fertilizing them at least once.
We grow indigo for leaf production, so they need fertilizers that give them plenty of nitrogen. I use fish emulsion, which is stinky but all-natural and the plants love it (also, burning your plants isn't an issue). Water and fertilize in the mornings and evenings, when the sun isn't at its peak.
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