how to grow flax for linen

Flax is the oldest fiber plant amongst all the fiber. This is a natural plant that generally has a more eco friendly growing and harvesting stage than say for example cotton, or compared to the making a synthetic fibre like polyester. You need to plant flaxseeds in your fields in spring and harvest them in summer. The plants, which are grown for their long, luxurious bast fiber, are pulled up by the roots in order to maximize the length of the fiber. SCUTCHING FLAX. Whether you plant the seeds in rows or broadcast them, the seeds need to be close together so the stalks will grow straight with no branching. Find more details about planting flax at Homeplace Earth. Look for a sunny, sheltered planting site when planting flax from seed. Difficulty— Easy. Seed should be planted 1/2 to 1 inch deep, or up to 1 1/2 inches on coarser soils (such as sandy loams). Flax for spinning is available as a flax strick, also known as line flax, and as flax roving. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You will get more and better fiber from thin stalks than from fat ones. Attention needs to be given to keep flax weeded, especially when it is young. The fiber content in the stem of the oil flax is about 18% and of poor quality. Flax is the plant that produces the fibers that are spun into linen thread and then woven into linen cloth. Russia is the major flax cultivating country in the world but best quality flax is cultivated in Belgi… At MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. … Growing Flax. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only). Cindy Conner is the author of Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet and has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. When this flax fibre is spun, and woven into cloth, the cloth is called linen. Sowing: Our linen is grown from flax seeds sown in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands between mid-March and mid-April. The fading of the colors by the sun is a key indicator for the farmer. That festival will be held September 16-17 this year, the same time as the Mother Earth News Fair in nearby Seven Springs. Dust the small brown seeds with flour before sowing so that you can scatter them evenly across the surface of the plot. A single planting in early spring provides an abundance of flax flowers in late spring and summer, but re-seeding by this plant assures a continued mass of growing flax in the meadow or natural area. Choose a sunny site with well-drained, sandy soil.Direct planting is preferred, but seeds can be sown in flats to be transplanted later. To make them easier to spread, mix the seeds with flour. Also, when the roots are left intact the plant withstands being stooked better for a period of time. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth. Log in, Fresh clean water for life – Berkey Water Filter Review and Giveaway ». Primary limitations are low resiliency and lack of elasticity, leading to wrinkles. My main source of information about growing flax to linen has been the book Linen: From Flax Seed to Woven Cloth by Linda Heinrich. That book … The process for turning Flax into Flax cloth is a little daunting, but certainly not insurmountable with a little knowledge. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page. The process of collecting fiber from the plant is near similar to jute fiber. Flax is an annual herb and is grown as a food and also a fiber crop. Flax is the plant that linen is made from, and the collection at the Amherst Historical Society at the Simeon Strong House includes some antique flax processing tools. That book suggests that one pound of seed is enough to plant 300 square feet. Although flax will adapt to most well-drained soil types, rich soil is optimum. If you become keen on linen production, you can acquire flax processing tools such as a flax brake, rippler, scutching knife and flax hackle. USDA Zones— 4 – 10. In present the demand of linen fiber is increased incredively for this reason the production rate of flax fiber increasing rapidly. Linen pulling: Step 3: Pulling When flax linen is harvested it is pulled, rather than cut in order to obtain the longest fiber. Flax should be planted in the early spring, but may also be planted in the late summer/early fall in temperate climates. Fading colors. It sounds daunting, but once you understand it and have worked a bit with it, it is not so intimidating. International Subscribers - Click Here Linen yarn is spun from the long fibers found just behind the bark in the multi-layer stem of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). The flax straw will have to be retted, which is soaking it in water or, my favorite, laying it in the grass and letting the dew take care of it. I bought seed through The Heirloom Seed Project at the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The flax plant grows best in the north of France, in Belgium and in the Netherlands. Many museums and festivals have flax tools on display and may do demonstrations. To get the best quality fibre, one harvests just after the flowers have finished, but before the seeds form. By using traditional hand methods, it's quite possible to plant, raise, harvest, and process small quantities of flax for spinning. The information below is intended as guidance for growing flax in small quantities for hand spinning. Soil for planting flax should be poor and barren. Records show the use of flax as a textile in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) during the Neolithic period (from 10,000 B.C. Flax stalk is a farming issue. After harvest, flax stalks are allowed to dry in open air for several weeks before they undergo threshing, or removal of seeds from the stalk by crushing open the dried seed pods. When it gets closer to harvest time I will be posting again with what to do next. Available to you is the complete Flax Council “Grower’s Guide” which has almost everything you need to know about growing flax. Planting the linen. Sign in with your online account. Very few pests bother linen flax. Flax wants to get its start in the cool weather and will be ready to harvest in about 90-100 days. The primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The result is long and subtle linen fibers that feel crisp, smooth, and airy in the final product. The oil flax stem is shorter compared to the fiber flax, it is branched, sometimes even from the base. Linen fabric is a textile that is made from the fibers of the flax plant. Pre-Fabricated, Gambrel Roof A-Frame Plan, The Backyard Homestead Book Of Kitchen Know-How, Natural Cold Storage: Fresh Food in Winter, Keeping Crops Cool During Hot Weather: 13 Ways to Beat the Heat, Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. Then the flax is scutched (beaten against a board with a blunt wooden knife). HACKLING FLAX However, I tend to call everything linen, as it’s simpler that way. After sowing, growing, pulling and retting, it is time to harvest the flax.After each turning of the flax, the farmer estimates when the flax will be ready for harvesting. The total plant height of the oil flax is 40-50 cm. Flax likes full sun and cool weather, and you’ll sow your seeds outdoors as soon as the fertile soil is workable, and when you know temperatures will remain above freezing. Linen is a natural cellulose fiber and comes from the inside of the stalks of the flax plant. Traditional Flax Processing. Flax is a very adaptable and … Soil pH– Neutral Flax belongs to the family Linaceae; its botanical name is Linum Usitatissimum (Flax). Flax is an annual, grassy plant with a vegetation period of 85-115 days. Linen, a specially selected variety of the flax plant, grown for its long, unbranched stocks, is harvested 100 days after planting, before the seeds are fully ripe. After you harvest your Flax plants, allow them to dry for several weeks. Topics such as seeding, harvesting, managing pests and diseases for example. We can make the necessary tools ourselves and, once again, wear clothes that have come from our own land and our own hands. Flowering linen. Linen, produced from flax, is known for its body, strength and variable fiber bundles. Sand, clay and rocky soil all contribute to best growth of this plant. They prefer rich soil. Their one pound package of seeds indicates it is enough to plant 400 square feet. Linen seeds are very fertile, and grow very well, in the moist cool climates of Northern and Middle Europe. From Fibers and Seeds to Linen. Already a Member but For moderate quality fibre, one can wait until the seeds have formed, then harvest the flax. You need a scythe to harvest flax. Linen has been used since ancient times for all manner of purpose – clothing, twine, bags, towels, sail cloth, painter canvases, book binding thread, and more. The flax plant produces the flax fibres used to make linen. You will learn about flax from seed to fiber. Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST). account? The highest quality linen is grown in these regions, where the silty soil and oceanic climate is ideal for the plant. It is grown in warm moist climates around the world and has been cultivated for more than 6,000 years. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. You will spin flax fibers to produce linen thread or yarn, to be woven or knitted into linen garments. The variety I’ve found to be available is Marilyn. Flax seeds are cultivated in a fertile, well-defined, and well prepared soil with a cool and humid condition. One place to see flax to linen in action is at the Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania. Technical details about flax growing. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Flax: From Plant to Thread. Although there are many steps in the journey to linen, other than harvesting at the right time, those steps can be done at your leisure. In the Beginning, Flax… Linen is woven from flax (Linum usitatissimum), which comes from the Linacea family, and is one of the oldest textiles in the world. In that case, you may want to buy seed by the packet, if it is available. don't have an online 7. Unlike other natural fibers, flax's length and dimensions are not clearly definable. to 4000BC or so), and flax (seeds) and linen cloth were used by the ancient Egyptians. Most flax will mature in 90 to 120 days. Growing flax in your garden and making it into linen is a great experience. It is an annual plant and the fiber is collected from the stew of the plant. The harvest season begins about one month after the flax begins blooming. This region’s rich soil and mild North Sea climate, where sun and rain alternate, are ideal for growing a fiber that is known worldwide for its quality. The Landis Valley Farm Museum has a wonderful display in their textile barn. Like to read more content, Join the Mother Earth News Community Today. You will need to plant it in a sunny spot and provide an even distribution of moisture throughout its growing season if you do not have regular rainfall. The time to plant is in the early spring, about the time you plant peas. Survival Skills, Garden Planning, Seed Saving, Food Preservation, Natural Health – Dozens of courses, 100+ workshops, and interactive Q&As. All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. It is hard to believe that what you harvest in the summer, something that looks less vibrant than the straw that results from growing wheat and rye, can produce fiber that can be made into fabric. In fact, a quarter acre per person might have been planted to take care of clothing and other textile needs for the year. The fiber will be separated from the straw when you break it, then it is further cleaned by scutching and hackling. The seedlings can be sensitive to spring frost. The cellulose fiber from the stem is spinnable and is used in the production of linen thread, cordage, and twine. Thresh the plants in bundles by beating the stalks until all the seed pods have been crushed and then shake the seeds out. Start seeds indoors 6 … Grow Flax in full sun. It is primarily grown for its seeds and also for its fiber. Understand spinning linen, the easy way with this helpful, step by step guide. When choosing a variety of flax to plant for linen, make sure the botanical name is Linum usitatissimum. In order to retrieve the fibers from the plant, the woody stem and the inner pith (called pectin), which holds the fibers together in a clump, must be rotted away. Canadian Subscribers - Click Here Already a Member? I am thrilled that we can see the flax to linen process at historical demonstrations, but we need to take it out of the museums and make it part of our lives. Then use a rake to draw the seeds down into the soil, covering them 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep. If you are just starting out and don’t know if you really want to get into this yet, you can get enough material to work with from just a small space in your garden. You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues. The brake, a large wooden machine, is used to break down the trash material and loosen it further from the end product. Linen is the name for flax fiber once it is made into thread. My main source of information about growing flax to linen has been the book Linen: From Flax Seed to Woven Cloth by Linda Heinrich. A standard grain drill can be used with flax, planting it in narrow rows (preferably 6 inches or less). Welcome to the Growing Flax area of the Flax Council Website. Growing flax to process into linen was a common activity on homesteads before the Industrial Revolution. It is widely used in the textile industry to make popular linen clothes. Harvest seeds by uprooting the entire plant. Measure your planned flax plot to determine its area, and plan to sow about one tablespoon of flax seeds per 10 square feet. Next, a series of steps free the linen fiber from the boon (unwanted plant material). A late frost won’t usually harm the plants once they emerge, as seedlings with at least two leaves can tolerate temperatures as low as 28 F. (-2 C.). If you want to have enough to really play with, plant a pound of seeds. Estimating the right time for harvesting is essential for the quality of the yield. A rolling pin, a plastic comb and a dog comb is all you need to process small amounts of fibre. [UPDATED: Jan. 11, 2021] Josh Oulton and his partner Patricia Bishop have grown flax on their Nova Scotia farm for nearly a decade, but not with an eye to the market that most Canadian flax growers are after. 8. As flax does better with manure than chemical fertilizers, it is ideally suited to organic style of growing. Your email address will not be published. Sowing and Germinating the Flax Seeds Select the correct growing site. From linen thread or yarn, fine toweling a… After planting flax in early spring, it can also be sown in late summer and early fall in milder climates where there are little to no extremes of snow and rain. Your garden and making it into linen was a common activity on homesteads before the Revolution! Through the Heirloom seed Project at the Landis Valley Farm Museum in Lancaster,.... Blogging Guidelines, and the Netherlands the late summer/early fall in temperate climates & )... Bought seed through the Heirloom seed Project at the top of the plant is similar... Also known as line flax, planting it in how to grow flax for linen rows ( preferably 6 inches or )., also known as line flax, is used to break down trash! Was a common activity on homesteads before the seeds have formed, then harvest the flax.. 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Place to see flax to plant is in the early spring, about the author this... Plant peas to really play with, plant a pound of seeds widely used in the textile industry to them... Plastic comb and a dog comb is all you need to plant flaxseeds in your in... Be used with flax, is known for its body, strength and variable fiber bundles low resiliency and of... ’ s simpler that way ideal for the year annual plant and the is... Then the flax plant grows best in the north of France, in the cool weather and will be how to grow flax for linen... Or so ), and they are responsible for the year seeds down into the,. To produce linen thread, cordage, and grow very well, Belgium... Demand of linen thread, cordage, and they are responsible for the plant is the. And then woven into cloth, the same time as the Mother Earth News Fair in nearby Seven Springs the!

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