The Dye Garden - the April Update

There has been progress in the Dye Garden so I thought I would give you an update. 

Regular readers will know that I have been redeveloping my old veg garden into a Dye Garden where I will be growing plants to make natural dyes that I can use to dye fabric.
The Veg Garden was weed and ivy-riddled and so was levelled and covered with black plastic for a year.  The hope was that this would kill off the perennial weeds and give me a good blank canvas.  Earlier this year I bought a couple of raised beds and set them up in the garden.
I bought a tonne of top soil for the raised beds and a ton of gravel for the paths.  Once the raised beds were full I removed the black plastic.  It has done a pretty good job; the ivy looks fairly dead and there was only a few weeds struggling to emerge in the dark.  I dug out the weeds and the ivy as best I could.  I am under no illusions that they have gone for good, but I am hopeful they will be more manageable.
Then it was time to lay out the paths.  I bought some weedproof membrane and laid out where I wanted the paths to be.  I left them for a few days so that I could used to looking at them and walking along them to see if they were in the right place.  Then I laid the first layer of gravel on them.  

Once I was happy with all this I could start some planting.  Firstly the madder went into one of the raised beds.  Madder runs and so it is best to try and control it.
I had planted the roots into plant pots until the raised bed was ready so they were nice and healthy.  The madder is sprouting nicely.  The netting is to prevent the cats from thinking I have made them posh raised cat-litter beds.  
Soapwort I have planted into a large tub.  This plant can be quite a nuisance as it runs and self-seeds.  It is used to gently clean the fabric before it is dyed.  If it does get to be nuisance it may have to go (of course it is a nuisance by that point it will be refusing to go....)
In the other raised bed I have sown some calendula seeds and these are germinating nicely.

I was a bit worried about the top soil as it is seemed quite inert.  There were no worms, no ants, nothing crawling about in it.  I have used some biochar to help perk it up and I am hopeful that once ants and worms get to do their thing that it will soon be full of life.  I have never bought top soil before and I took care to read reviews that said it was of good quality, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I have also planted several roses into this space, as I want it to have scent as well as colour. 

There is still much to do.  I need to finish the gravel paths and the seed-sowing has to begin.  I have been waiting until we are through the frost period so that they can grow fast and strong.  I have planted a woad plant into the garden: just the one.  I have some woad seeds too.  Woad is a biennial so in order to have a steady crop I need to have one plant already flowering now ready for this year's seeds to grow and flower next year.  Well that is the plan anyway....

So watch this space, more updates will follow.

Take care and be kind.

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