Backyard flax experiment 2019 #1 preparation

In 2019 I joined The Linen Project, an initiative to re-establish a small scale linen production in the Netherlands. Linen got me hooked and I was curious to farm flax and make linen myself. So I asked my family if I could claim a little part of their garden in Germany in order to grow some flax. In addition I asked my grandmother Margit if she would like to help me farming flax, as she is an experienced self-taught gardener. The journey started on March 8th 2019 with making a field.

My family and I turned 10 squaremetres of grassland of the garden into field. I knew grass wasn’t the ideal preceding crop for flax, but to be fair – there was no other spot available. Luckily on the coming 101 days only a few insects satisfied their hunger on the flax. The big field was divided into 10 small testing patches of 1m2 each. On these patches I wanted to experiment with different methods of growing flax.

I’ve read old articles about how to farm flax efficiently and create fine fibres. A book said the stems must be harvested right after flowering, so the fibres stay fine. Another one stated that the plants should be covered in brushwood when they are in the germinating phase – this way they will grow through the brushwood, which will give them support in strong winds and keep them from falling over. I read about many more suggestions. All the square patches were prepared equally, meaning all weeds were removed and a flat even surface made.

By that time I had so many questions: How would you ideally grow flax in your backyard? How much time do you need to invest to get good quality? Do you even need to pull out weeds? The folowing weeks should provide some answers.

Read the follow-up here.

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