Your own flax to make linen! (From the UNFINISHED exhibition seeds)


It was nice that you visited the UNFINISHED exhibition in Arnhem and I hope you took a little seed bag. If so, below you’ll find the info how to grow your own flax!

General info:

Your seed bag contains 3,75 grams of linseed, which is just the right amount to achieve the recommended density of plants for fibre flax on a 25 x 25 cm patch (of course you can spread them out on a bigger patch as well).

Generally, the best flax gets grown on clay soil, but don’t worry it will also grow on other soil qualities, like sandy soil or even regular potting soil. You might just not achieve the most perfect fibre qualities.

In addition, the previous crop influences your fibre quality and success rate. Actually it is not recommended to put flax on a field where the previous crop was vegetables or grass, but I have tried it and I was happy with the results (apart from some roots that have been bitten off, the flax developed fine).

Pick a sunny spot, not too close to the wall of a house. North facing gardens are generally not recommended, just like shady spots under trees as flax loves sunlight.

Sow your flax in March/April. Ideally after the weather was dry for a few days and you’re expecting rain in the upcoming days. The “rule” says flax gets sown on the 100th day of the year and stays on the field for 100 days.

day 57

I am describing the easiest and quickest method of getting the seeds into the soil, alternatively you can sow the flax in rows.

  1. Prepare a seedbed
    • take a rake and create a fine crumbled soil and a straight surface
  2. Sow your seeds broadly
    • spread the seeds evenly on a surface of 25 x 25
  3. Cover the seeds with soil
    • use a rake to “rake” the seeds deeper into the soil and cover them up
  4. Watch the first little plants appear around day 6
  5. Remove weed
    • flax seedlings can’t compete with fast growing weeds, remove the weed in the first few weeks to improve your chances of a good yield
  6. Watch the plants flower around day 60
  7. Watch the seed pods developing
  8. Harvest the flax (pulling the flax) around day 100
    • after the flowering seed pods will grow, when thepods start to turn light brown and the bottom of the stem turns yellow the flax is ready for the harvest
    • grab the plant near the ground and pull it straight up out of the soil, including the root.
  9. Remove the seed pods
    • use a flax ripple (huge metal comb) or a regular fork to pull the plant through and remove the seed pods
  10. Dry and store your flax for further processing!
    • You have grown the raw material for linen! You can crush the seed pods softly with a rolling pin. Afterwards, you can seperate the shell and seeds through winnowing. You can eat your seeds or save them for next year!

Want to know how to get the fibres out of the plant?

Read here about the first step of getting to your linen, namely through retting, a biochemical process which separated fibres and wooden parts.

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