In A Garden to Dye For (St. Lynn’s, 2014), Chris McLaughlin teaches you how to make the most of your garden by harvesting different plants to create your own clothing dyes. She walks you through each type of plant, explaining where the color comes from and how best to get it for yourself. In the following excerpt, McLaughlin teaches you how to extract yellow and green dyes from your extra mint plants.
My experience with mint has led me to believe that it’s probably more important to learn how to slow mint down as opposed to keep it going. Because if you bring just one teeny-tiny stem into the garden…it’s gonna grow. Mint is like that. In just a few short months, it’ll make any self-proclaimed black thumb feel like they’re P. Allen Smith.
Mint has propagation down to an art; between enthusiastic seeds and underground runners, it has the potential of being the bane of your existence. It’s only since I’ve learned to corral all mint in pots and containers that we’ve become BFFs. It loves loamy soils that are rich in organic matter and full sun (a little shade won’t bother them). But that’s all you need to know about growing them – I promise.
Mint is a perennial plant that can be started by seed, but they do take some time to germinate (this is merely a ploy to throw you off). Most people prefer to purchase baby plants or take a snip here and there off of a mature specimen. Yes, your friends will be eager to share. Maybe even a little hysterical as they hand them to you. But take them because they can be confined and there’s almost nothing that you can’t do with mint.
Mint leaves produce yellows and (with an iron modifier) greens. Leave fibers in the dyebath overnight for best results.
Reprinted with permission from A Garden to Dye For, by Chris McLaughlin and published by St. Lynn’s, 2015.
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