Why grow flax?
- It's a great source of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids
- It is frost hardy
- It grows pretty little blue flowers (attracts bees)
- The straw can be used as mulch or to make linen - for clothing, baskets, twine
Flax is super hardy. I planted it by seed straight into the garden on March 31st in zone 4. It was still fully winter at this point, though our snow pack had completely melted. I planted about 1/2 a teaspoon of seeds.
The flax seeds germinated within a few days and stayed alive and well through many weeks in the low 20s (Fahrenheit.)
|Golden Flax Seedlings|
|A thin row of flax among tomatoes - early May|
The bottoms were already starting to yellow a bit.
Eventually, weight of the seed bolls combined with hail damage caused the sheaths to topple over. They were no longer able to stand up - even with help.
This, combined with the fact that birds were starting to nip the bolls, led me to bag the heads. I covered them in netting bags (jelly bags.)
Here are the seed bags all collected:
Here's a shot of the inside of the bags - mostly bolls with a bit of stem.
These were stripped off using a wide toothed comb. The stems were placed in the garden and compost piles.
Once these completely dry out, I will roll the bolls and winnow out the chaff.
Each boll has 10 seeds in it.
|Flaxseeds after a few winnowings - really high wind is required because flax seeds jump!|
In the end, we harvested about 3/4 of a cup of seeds (once all the winnowing and cleaning up was done.) From 1/2 a tsp to 3/4 of a cup is amazing, but it's still not cost effective to grow this on a regular basis.
In the future - I will grow flax as a pretty blue flower - hard and early - to attract pollinators and save a few seeds. I will always have seeds on hand for eating and emergency planting. But I will buy the bulk of my flax seeds. You just can't beat the price of flaxseed in the stores (even organic!)
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