Flax is Up

Despite the enormous backlog of unprocessed flax under the bed, in the closet, and in the back of the car, I decided to plant more flax this year. I am growing Marilyn from the Hermitage. In my trials last year, Marilyn grew the tallest but also had the most trouble with lodging (flopping over and getting tangled on the ground). This year I am aiming for long, fine fiber. The little “line” I have managed to process thus far from years past is fairly coarse and stiff. I have always harvested around 90 days after planting, sometimes a bit later. My plan this year is to harvest much earlier than I have in the past, and then to compare the fiber with past crops.

Here I am digging up the plot last Saturday. Matthew helped me dig it, but he’s taking the photo. The plot is 4 by 25 feet, 100 square feet, into which I sowed a pound of seed. Actually, I saved some aside for filling in bald spots.

digging the bed

The soil was very dry since we have had a dry spring. I added six bags of Fafard organic compost. Later I realized the bags said “Not a plant food product.” I am not sure what this means exactly. I assume it means it adds organic matter but no nutrients, which will only be marginally helpful. I took a soil sample after I mixed in the compost, so we’ll find out about the nutrients one way or the other. If it helps with water retention in our sandy soil, that will be good at least. The compost is very dark compared to the dust-dry soil.

compost on dry soil

I mixed in the compost, then broadcast the seed by hand. Then I raked to settle the seeds down into the soil, and then pressed it all down firmly by standing on a couple two by fours.

pressing down the soil

Here’s the bed all planted and pressed on Saturday May 4th, 2013.

planted flax bed

The early part of the week was dry, so I watered every day. Then we had a rainy spell, thankfully. Today, Friday May 10th, it is up!

flax seedlings

As you can see, I have once again managed to sow very unevenly.

flax seedlings close up

flax seedlings bald spot

So, I’ll fill in some of the bald spots with the rest of the seed.