Folk Fibers Blog / gardening

  • Natural Dyes - Pomegranates

    Natural fibers dyed with pomegranates harvested in Austin, Texas above: no mordant--pure and earthy  below: alum pre-mordant brightens colors creating yellow tones Steeped in history and romance pomegranates have long been cultivated, they're even biblical. I find myself lucky to be living in a place they grow prolifically, they're packed with usefulness and in my case a botanical dye. Overall the pomegranate is an attractive shrub or small tree and is more or less spiny, and extremely long-lived. The fruit is widely praised for the juice, but I'm after the brilliant dye properties great for coloring textiles. The dye properties are found in both the rind...

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  • Featured In This Weeks Johnson's Backyard Garden Newsletter

    When I was in need of a sufficient growing space for the Folk Fibers dye garden I went to a guy that I know has land, my former boss Brenton Johnson. The story about Brent starting his farm in his backyard here in Austin is no secret, it's sweet and simple, and printed on thousands of CSA boxes and produce labels.  Brent still owns the house on Holly Street where JBG got started in the backyard, and front yard, and both sides.  Brent rents out the Holly Street residence and one of the tenants is how he found his amazing graphic designer (and my pal) Ryan...

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  • INSIDE MY LIBRARY

          Inside the book "Living on a Few Acres" copyright 1978 

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  • FROM THE GREENHOUSE TO THE GARDEN

    Spring Has Sprung In Austin & So Have I ! Six weeks ago I started 500 indigo seeds inside the JBG greenhouse. The JBG greenhouse still feels a little like my house, and Brent is so kind to continue to allow me access to the greenhouse. It is actually really easy to grow from seed if you have a well working greenhouse, sometimes it feels a little too easy, especially when you have a friend like Kim to water for you. If you don't watch yourself you can easily grow a ton of plants and your problem will be finding room for...

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  • GERMINATING DORMANT SEEDS

    Many plants have dormant seeds as a biological mechanism to ensure that seeds will germinate at the right time and under conditions that are favorable for the growth and survival of the next generation.  There are two types of seed dormancy: Exogenous (seed coat dormancy) and Endogenous (embryo dormancy). Some seeds have hard seedcoats preventing water absorption and the exchanges of gases. Without water absorption and gas exchange, germination would be impossible. There are several treatments to break dormancy for the purpose of inducing germination.  Scarification and Soaking are two pretreatment techniques that I have chosen to highlight.  They are simple and effective and I use...

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  • BABY CACTUS

      I am enchanted by this baby cactus necklace.  Lauren Serota gave it to me as a Christmas gift and yes, it actually is a necklace. It is to be watered every three months by simply soaking it in a glass of water for 30 mins.  I enjoyed watering it so much!  It has me thinking, I am going to try growing cactus from seed! How exciting will that be, baby baby cactus, and lots of them! 

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  • THE SECRET TO ORGANIC SOIL MIX

    Organic Soil Mix 1 wheelbarrow-load Vermiculite 1 wheelbarrow-load Peat Moss 1 wheelbarrow-load Aged Manure 2 4-inch pots Blood Meal 2 4-inch pots Rock Phosphate 2 4-inch pots Green Sand  After a couple years of working on organic farms, and managing a greenhouse, I have a clear understanding of what makes a successful soil mix. In the diagram above I extracted the basic ingredients to illustrate the raw materials.  The option to use comercial pre-packaged potting soils are widely available at nursery and garden supply stores, but you can also make your own potting mix! Making your own mix allows you to control the types and...

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  • STORING SEEDS

    A Garden's success depends in part on the quality of seeds planted. It is a shame to let seeds deteriorate inside a drawer or closet when simply putting them in an air tight container, inside the refrigerator, or freezer is the better option.  I am writing this because I realized many of my friends and family were making this common mistake, so perhaps it can be helpful to share what I know on seed storage. Conditions essential to good seed storage are just the opposite of those required for good germination. Good germination occurs when water and oxygen are present...

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