Digging for madder…

madder roots

Madder roots 

It’s been a while since I posted something here. That’s because it’s winter and during winter I hibernate. Which means I don’t dye anything or harvest any plants, I just read and knit and read and knit and once in a while I write a bit too.

But basically, I’m waiting for the return of spring…

freshly dugged madder roots

freshly dug madder roots

But yesterday the weather was nice, the sun was shining and it felt like spring! So I decided it was a good day to harvest some madder roots.
It is said that the minimum age for harvesting madder is three years, but the best age should be five years. I have three madder plants, all of them three years old, so I dug one out, leaving some of the roots in the soil for new plants and I harvested about 300 grams of roots. I put them in a bucket full of water to loosen the soil and let it soak overnight.

Because madder root is hard to cut when dry I cut mine fresh in small pieces using a pair of secateurs after I have washed them thoroughly several times.

washed fresh madder roots

Now I will let them dry in a warm place before I use them, later in summer.
The colour of the roots is quite red as you can see. 300 grams of fresh washed roots should be around 45 grams of dried madder. That’s not much and to be honest I expected more, but I guess I will have to be patient and wait another two years to dig out the rest.

chopped fresh madder roots

chopped and ready to dry

Conclusion:  I will have to plant a LOT more plants if I want to dye with my own madder…