Growing Flax

I recently mentioned that my daughters have a small science project underway here. This year in our garden, we’re trying our hands at growing Marilyn variety flax. This is the variety of flax that can be used to create linen. I purchased the Marilyn flax seed from the brothers at the Hermitage in Pennsylvania. This flax seed originally came from the Netherlands, where I’m told linen is becoming “quite popular among the young people.”

We planted our flax just before we headed to Arkansas for our week-long vacation. After one week, this is how our flax looked:

May 2014 vacation 003

A few more weeks have now passed, and it’s continuing to grow very well.

June 2014 048

In my daughter Hannah’s research, she learned that about 3,000 acres of the type of flax used for cloth were planted in the Red River Valley, Marshall County, Minnesota last year. They’re “reflaxing” Minnesota.

Our “reflaxing” initiative is, obviously, a small-scale, hands-on experience for the purpose of learning. We found an interesting book available through the MN library system, They Wrought Amongst the Tow, from County Tyrone, Ireland, that discusses how flax was handled in that area along with some of the history of the people there. My favorite note from the book on retting is that it’s a smelly process, and historically, if a man was planning to get married, he did not participate in this process. Our intention is to take it from seed to spinning.

I’m looking forward to the lovely blue flowers it should produce.


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