Backyard flax experiment 2019 #3 development

It was a joy to watch the flax growing from day 1 (March 30th 2019) to day 101 (July 9th 2019), the day of the harvest. I was amazed how quick it was germinating and how tall it became in the end. Some flower heads reached a height of 120cm! However the average was around 110cm. You can hover over the illustration to see the details.

The flowers developed around day 60 and the last seed pods on day 71. You may ask, why wait another 30 days until the harvest? This is to let the seeds get fully ripe, it’s not really neccesary to do this if you don’t plan to reuse your seeds. I also experimented with an early harvest on patch 5 and 6, right after the flowers were all gone. There were no seeds from these patches.

The pictures below show the stages of the flax on day 53 after sowing. The left one was sown broadly, the middle one in rows. The right one has a structure that would keep the flax standing upright in the event of a storm. That should proof quite relevant as you will read below…

Growing the flax didn’t go without troubles. June 3rd shocked me – a thunderstorm pushed down 4 flax patches entirely and 2 others by half. I didn’t want to loose the entire harvest (due to rotting of the flax on the ground), so I decided to intervene. My family and I build fences and support structures around the flax and lift it back up. That recommendation came from Karlijn Bokhorst, a farmer who also supports The Linen Project.

I think the thunderstorm pushed the flax down for three main reasons: the area where I tried to grow it is usually not very windy so the little plants could not get accustomed to wind (unlike on the shorelines in Zeeland for example), they were exceptionally tall already and the rain fell hard. It had one positve effect though, patch no.8 which already had a support structure before the storm did survive super well! In the end it was also good luck that the flax recovered from the storm and had the most beautiful flowers.

development of flax fields with recovered storm damage

You can read here about how the harvest went and what the yields of each patch was.

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