Growing Woad from Seeds
The seed is sown thinly spaced in March, in shallow drills or in seed trays, just covering the seed (see You-Tube video of seeds planted in drills in March 2007).
Planting Woad Seedlings
The seedlings are transplanted a foot apart when they are large enough to handle. Woad plants like an alkaline soil, so apply lime to the soil about a week before transplanting. For dark colours woad needs plenty of nitrogen, which it can get from fertilisers such as dried blood & bone meal or hoof & horn meal.
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Like other plants of the cabbage family, woad plants are susceptible to club root. The crop needs rotating and woad should not be planted where broccoli or other brassicas have been grown.
If your area is infested with club root, you may get away with transplanting the woad into pots, letting it grow for a couple of weeks or more and then transplanting it into the final position.
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Harvesting leaves for dye extraction
Woad planted in March can be harvested from July until September. In some years, woad can be harvested as late as November but the first autumn frost may destroy the colour. Some people manage to get colour all the year round.
Use secateurs to cut the woad leaves, avoiding old leaves with blue in the leaf stalk, and leaving as much leaf stalk behind as possible. It is better to cut all the leaves of one plant, so as to let the new leaves grow again.
The leaves can now be used for dye extraction!
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Last updated on 16 August 2020
Website & photos - Mike Roberts © 2006-20 woad.org.uk