Saturday, July 6, 2013
Flax harvest time has come quicker than I thought! **Now updated to show how to dry the flax.**
I had no idea it would progress so quickly.
I shall harvest tomorrow (pulling it up by the roots), and will string the plants roots up on a fence to dry.
Grow-along people, check your flax plants! Could be time to harvest for you too!
My library research (great book called The Wartime Farm) said to harvest when the leaves are just turning yellow.
Here's my flax stem with yellowing leaves.
This gives you a sense of how tall the plants are.
Looks like we'll be harvesting at McLean Park soon too.
Pulled the plants up by the roots today.
Collected them together and took them home for drying in the sun.
Tied the flax in small bundles and hung them on my cucumber climbing frame in the sun. It's important to get the roots all at the same level in the bundle (you'll see why when you come to the hackling part). I've made the bundles small so that the sun can get to all the plants.
More information on how to rett your harvested crop coming soon. I had hoped to do some retting try outs using the previously grown flax that was kindly donated, but that trial is being done as part of the Aberthau project. That means it won't be finishing until the end of August (too late to give advice to you grow-alongs).
So my flax will have to be the trial run so that I can let people know what I've found that works (or doesn't!) before the end of the summer and you'll have enough sunny, warm weather to try retting for yourselves.
The McLean flax will be drying in both stooks and bundles on the fence after tomorrow night - come along and check it out!
PS I've haven't been able to get a coarse hackle in time for processing my flax crop (I will probably be hackling at the end of the month), so have ordered a small one from Shropshire from these folks http://www.flaxland.co.uk/projects.html. Hoping they can ship it to me in time! If it doesn't arrive by hackling time, then I'm going to see if it's possible to use the ripple donated by Capilano College as a substitute and the fine hackle I bought from Texas to finish the process. It's not the ideal way to make linen from flax, but the best option for now.
Final PS. If your crop has started to lodge (fall over) like the McLean Park plot, then it's best to harvest as soon as there's flowers out. Don't wait because once the plants are on the ground they will get mildew and won't produce any good linen fibre. FYI the McLean plot was planted at 3x the density of everyone else (45g/sq m), so this may be an isolated problem.