Oklahoma is derived from the Choctaw Indian words "okla" meaning people and "humma" meaning red. Oklahoma is my home. Tinctoria is Latin, meaning to dye or color things; this is my work.

16 June 2010

Seed to Skein 2010 Dye Garden Project, Part IV

Seed Starting Frame/Growth Stages, 2010.

Part IV: Transplanting and Root Systems
Once the true leaf has developed (after the cotyledons), the small plants can be transplanted directly into garden ground or potted up individually into 4” garden pots. The main advantage to starting multiple dye plant seeds in a single 4” pot is the ability to clearly identify the dye plant sprouts as they emerge. Several factors determine direct ground or continue in pots: Is the garden bed ready? Has the last frost date passed? How sensitive is the plant? Does it have a better chance of survival if it is able to grow a bit bigger and stronger, developing a stronger root system before being transplanted directly into the soil.

Layout Rubia Tinctoria, 2010.

Transplanted Dahlia, 2010.

Transplanting time is an overwhelming process. There are many decisions to make. I find planting choices to begin methodically and end intuitively. Some seedlings are not the least bit bothered by division or transplanting while others go into shock for a of couple days but find the strength and determination to recover. Some plants simply do not like to be moved and may continue to struggle or perhaps die. Often the weather during the time of the transplanting can play a major factor in the outcome for sensitive plants. Many results are predictable, but some are surprises or simply the “lay of the land” when learning to garden or getting to know new plant species. These characteristics are important to recognize and to respect in each garden and for each plant species. Think of people being moved... sometimes we take it well, sometimes we don’t. Plants are no different. And, like people, they like to have a good drink once they have been moved. Ideal moving days for plants are when it is cool and wet.

Isatis tinctoria
being thinning, 2010.

When seeds are directly sown into the garden soil they most likely will need to be thinned because they germinated too closely to one another. Woad, Isatis tinctoria, was the only plant I direct seeded this year. Weld, Reseda luteola, one of the slower dye plants to germinate, is usually recommended for direct sowing, but I was concerned about not being able to identify the seedling, so I planted them in a 4” pot that went into the seed-starting frame. Once the seedlings were ready for division I transplanted about a dozen into a prepared garden bed and I also potted some up into individual 4” pots. Although the Weld needed a couple days to recover from their move, and the cloudy, cool days helped, both methods worked well. Weld will shortly develop a tap root, making transplanting too difficult and traumatic. 

Reseda luteola roots of seedlings, 2010.

Rubia tinctoria
 roots, 2010.

Rubia tinctoria roots,
close up out of 4" pot, 2010.

Roots anchor the plant in the ground, absorb water and nutrients, store carbohydrates, and they are responsible for the primary growth of the plant. There are many different types of roots. Primary root systems are the main root growing downward. Tap roots are characterized by their single large, downward growing root with branch or lateral roots growing off the side of the tap root like a carrot. Fibrous roots are when all the roots are of similar size. Root nodules form with nitrogen-fixing bacteria along the root systems of legumes- Indigofera tinctoria is a good example.

Polygonum tinctorium,
close up out of 4" pot, 2010.

Polygonum tinctorium,
root growth stages, 2010.

Transplanting dye plant seedlings allows for observation of various species’ root systems, exposing root systems rarely seen or not fully exposed until harvest.

Galium verum roots, transplant, 2010.

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