October already! I have a second sweet harvest of milkweed bast, thanks to the lovely Kathleen Marie Garness, a social-media friend, and now one I’ve met in person. And that was grand. She raises milkweed in among her other thriving garden plants. Thanks to her work with various area forest preserves and open lands, she hand-raised forty monarch butterflies this year with her milkweed-leaf farm and caterpillar cafè.
It was inspiring to see how very much milkweed one can raise in a yard just the same size as mine, along with a large variety of other plants. It was easily half the Ragdale meadow harvest. The other thing: garden-raised milkweed is so fat, happy, clean and unblemished! I need a good quantity of the clearest white fiber for a planned bookwork; now I definitely have it.
Not only all that, Kathleen also told me to take some seedpods and gave me expert instructions for growing. I’m turning over chunks of the gardens to milkweed. There’ll be a late fall planting, which will require a day of clearing of volunteer plants (there is an incipient, unwanted Rose-Of-Sharon forest beginning out there), and that – in addition to the processing – is why I’m calling this Milkweed Month.
For other planned works, I also have a replenished stock of an old staple, unbleached abaca (plus a bit of bleached flax half-stuff just to mess around with) thanks to a quick visit with Jen Thomas at Werkspace, and rumor has it that even more milkweed stalks may be arriving tomorrow. Abundance!