Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Companion planting and caterpillars

Caterpillars, or at least the little green one that develops into the white butterfly. Now under normal circumstances most gardeners get rid of these caterpillars, but I became intrigued by the way they ravished a pot of 'oriental' leaves for eating whilst leaving the lettuces alone.
The oriental leaves obviously came from the crucifera (cabbage) family, and as can be seen are devouring the leaves at a rapid pace.

Ravaging caterpillars

I had come across on another blog of silk butterflies?/moths being kept in this country for the silk cocoons they produce, they were kept in the house and did indeed produce cocoons. In Japanese sericulture, the pupae in the cocoon is suffocated (otherwise it would eat itself out of the silk), and is sent away to be spun, the outer silk of the bave is kept by the farmer and used for wadding or simple clothing.

The silk cocoon or bave is now unwound mechanically and its average length is seven to eight hundred metres, though before it undergoes this treatment it is placed or goes through hot water to remove the sericin (a proteinic gum) which holds the cocoon together. Having bought a quantity of gummed silk for spinning I found it impossible to spin or remove the gum without getting the thread in a terrible mess! But have been dyeing cotton, firstly with an acidic dye of lilac and also with alder fruit using the same mordant mix of salt and white vinegar that I used with the artificial dye, though with acid dyes you are supposed to use Glauber salts....

Light and dark lilac, with alder fruit (brown) and natural cream cotton

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