Planting Woad At Last

I have been meaning to plant woad since April, and have had the beds dug for weeks. Not sure what the hold-up has been, but I finally planted one bed last Wednesday morning May 23rd before my shift at Shelburne Arts Co-op.

The soil at our garden is sandy and not rich in organic matter, and woad is a heavy feeder. In the past couple years I have been happy and impressed with my woad plants at Bramble Hill Farm at my little fiber and dye plant garden, and unhappy with my plants at our community garden. In an attempt to get burlier plants at the community garden, I put 6 bags of compost and cow manure into the two beds I dug, and plan to side dress with organic fertilizer during the season.

Here is a shot of the nice dark manure/compost combo:

woad bed with compost and manure

By the way, I bought the bagged compost and cow manure from Annie’s (12/19/23 Edited to add that Annie’s is sadly no longer in business. I removed the link.). As I was waiting to pay for it, I was in line behind a woman who spent about $100 on lovely gifts that she was getting wrapped up. The process was taking a little while, and I was standing there waiting with nothing in my hands. So the cashier politely asked me if I was being helped. I said it was OK, I was just waiting to pay for manure. Both of the women looked at me for a moment, and the cashier said, “Manure?” I realized the extreme contrast between my purchase and that of the customer in front of me, and replied, “Well, you have it all here.” That is, Annie’s has beautiful things as well as practical ones. And they do.

Which reminds me of another anecdote. The paternal side of my family traditionally plays a card game called Beacon Hill Rummy when we have family get-togethers at our cabin on Queen Lake. It is customary to comment on one’s hand and luck during the game (it’s not poker, in fact it is like the anti-poker) and once a family member described his or her hand as a “sack o’ poo,” meaning it was terrible. Matthew and I commented that we regularly pay good money for sacks of poo for our garden, and in fact it’s probably our biggest expense in gardening. In manure as in cards, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. This past holiday season, imagine my delight when I saw these (12/19/23 Edited to add that the bags of guano and other fancy poop are no longer for sale. I removed the link) listed in the Pinetree Seeds catalogue. Not a sack of coal, but a sack o’ poo for every boy and girl. Exotic poo.

OK, back to the woad. I plan to plant two large beds. The beds are almost as long as the flax beds (14 feet) but I left a path in between for weeding and watering. So they’re about 13 feet long and 3 feet wide.

two woad beds

Here is a handful of woad seeds.They vary in color from green to purple, but all except the lightest, thinnest yellow ones will grow (I know this from some germination experiments I did last summer).

woad seeds

I have a lifetime supply so I plant wantonly.

seeds in the ground

Here’s a close-up. I think woad seeds are beautiful. Actually, I think woad might be my favorite dye plant.

seeds close up

As of Monday May 28th the woad is up! Here are some photos of the cute little seedlings.

a woad seedling

another woad seedling

one more woad seedling