Crab Apple Dyeing: Part 1.

An exercise in backwards project design. In stead of starting with the desire for an end product, I found myself with a raw material that I hadn’t planned for, and decided to work out a way to utilise it.

It all starts with my planting a crabapple tree in a too small space. I was pruning it each year to try to limit the size. I eventually did some research and concluded that I was just causing it to send up long unproductive growth. Basically it turns out that one can’t heavily prune a crabapple and still get fruit. Bother. So I decided to work towards pulling the tree out and replacing it with something more civilised.

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I had hacked off all the small branches and was enquiring as to which of my wood working friends wanted any of the sizable pieces. Another friend spoke up, saying that one can use the bark and twigs for dyeing. Oh, well then. I figured I had to try that.

I found this site which had something of a recipe. Happily, it didn’t seem to need any special mordant. I collected as much coloured bark and small twigs as I reasonably could, then filled the bucket that I was using with as many of the leaves as would fit. That little collection then sat on my back verandah for a couple of months. Then I looked at it and decided I simply must proceed, so the poor plastic bucket could be retired inside away from the nasty UV light.

Next step then was to boil up all that saved vegetation in water. I didn’t have oregano flowers, but I included some oregano sprigs just in case it helped. The recipe site also talks about doing the preparation in a copper pot. I have copper pots but they are all lined with either tin or stainless steel. So I sat the outside of a small one in the boil in case that was important.

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I loved making “witches brews” out of random things in the garden when I was a small child. This process touched that nerve, in a good and grin making way.

Here is what the liquor looked like straight after I put hot water over the veg mass. I reckon we will get a yellow dye, not a red one as the recipe says.

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This is after an hour simmering:

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Then leave it sit for a week, strain off the liquid which becomes the dyebath.

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There is certainly some pigment there. There is also a bit of mould, which I figured meant I had to get right on to trying the actual dyeing.

To be continued…………..

Parsley harvest time again

I grow parsley through the winter, but as soon as the weather warms, it bolts. I have tried replanting in the warmer months but as soon as it’s grown a little it bolts again. So before the winter crop goes completely manky, I harvest a few bunches, run it through the food processor with a little salt and a glug of olive oil.

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Oh, ok, I’ll do a second bunch.

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Then I pack the resulting mix into ice trays and freeze. I’m amused that this year, each bunch must have been almost identically sized because they both filled 13 places. When frozen, I pop them out into a ziplock bag and have parsley available until next winter’s crop has grown. The blocks works just fine in anything cooked, or wet mixed like a dip. Just not for anything where you want the fresh texture. I’ve tried just freezing with no liquid, and freezing with a little water. The oil seems to work better to keep the flavour.

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As usual, I’ve left one plant in the garden for fresh use until it goes well to seed.

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Fleurs

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In some ways I haven’t made these. In other ways I’ve made them thrice over. They grew in my garden, which I tend.  I cut and arrange them. Then take photographs.

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Initially, I started taking pictures to preserve the flowers for my later viewing pleasure. At some point it occurred to me to use these posy pictures as virtual cards, which I’ve been really enjoying. So nice to find that extra use for them. Usually this is for birthdays, but too many times lately for condolence. So in honour of the friend who passed away a few days ago, much too soon, and all the other loved ones who left us recently, I choose white flowers for this post.

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I don’t consider myself to be a wonderful photographer, but I’m increasingly happy with the outcomes. Anything I’d count as success though has been only with stationary inanimate objects. I have learned that it’s ok to only like one in ten or so pics. Take many!

I’m not keeping track of which photo I’ve used for what purpose, maybe I should.

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White dancer

(New news on an old post)

I’ve never seen a fuchsia I like more than this lovely thing. It makes me think of ballet dancers. This one was grown from a cutting that my longest friend kindly gave me. My plant has lived in a pot for years but getting less and less happy. At the end of July, I cut it right back and popped it in the garden bed I had recently dug up.

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It’s now about 6 weeks on and the main plant is looking happy.

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I had cut up the prunings and stuck them in the ground too as a back up option. All six are still alive and two have been transferred to little pots. There isn’t much root development yet, which I shouldn’t know but soil tends to fall off if there are no roots to hold it. Anyway, these are doing pretty well and will go as gifts if they keep that up. I’ll leave the rest of the cuttings undisturbed in the ground for a while longer. Fingers crossed there will be more of these beautiful flowers in my garden.

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