Monday, July 28, 2008

linum usitatissimum

It was a very good day, when I walked out into my garden and saw this...

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My flax is beginning to flower. This year I am growing "Marylin" seed that I purchased from the Landis Valley Farm Museum. It is a Dutch variety. 100 days. Flax should be sown on the 100th day of the year, and harvested on the 200th. I was late getting mine in, so it will be late getting it out. I am relieved to finally see it begin to bloom. It has such a delicate flower...unassuming ....yet gorgeous in it's own right.

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I planted my flax over by the corn patch this year. I sowed it thick, to avoid side branching. I am happy with the progress it is making...and hopeful about the harvest and processing.

I've grown flax before, but have not been successful with the retting process. A few years ago, I purchased a variety called "Veralin" from the Mannings Handweaving School, in Adams County Pennsylvania. Veralin is a variety from the Netherlands, and was bred in 1999 from the parents Torshok and Lidia (which I think are Russian varieties). It grew to maturity for harvest, but was very fragile, and did not ret well at all. It was good for fire tinder.

The seed I am raising this year, is far from the cultivar that my great grandmother grew. Commercial breeding of flax started around the end of the 19th century, it is being bred for the end user, and there are many legislative barriers in place surrounding the distribution.

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There is one other variety that I have not tried, and it is available from Richters seed company. It goes by the name of Evelin, and I think it is a Dutch variety. If anyone has any other variety available ...or information as to where it can be purchased...please leave a comment or contact me in a private email. I would love to try an old variety if it were available. All the seed that is for sale these days is treated. An heirloom fiber flax seed would be very valuable.

9 comments:

Manise said...

Have you tried the members of Seed Savers Exchange?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is always fun to have blue in the garden. It doesn't matter that the blooms are small. That you are able to use the plant for other than decoraiton is a big plus. I hope it works for you.

Judy said...

Good Luck in your seed search. The flower is beautiful. I just started spinning some flax I bought about three years ago in Rhinebeck...not the easiest but I shall persevere.

Judy said...

Good Luck in your seed search. The flower is beautiful. I just started spinning some flax I bought about three years ago in Rhinebeck...not the easiest but I shall persevere.

annmarie said...

what an interesting post! I always enjoy reading about what you are seeing, growing and doing. :)

Donna B said...

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sells flax as a grain crop...but I imagine that Jere Gettle has connections with many non commercial seed sources as well, and may be able to help you? There are also forums connected with his site. I am pondering growing flax...looking forward to seeing how your retting goes! Let us know! :-)

Susie said...

Marylin, Veralin and Evelin...wonder if they were named for three Dutch maids (Mary, Vera and Eve, of course), and if it's coincidence that all three flax varieties of the Dutch flax end in "lin" as in "linen" ? Whatever, it's a stunning color: the blue of a summer sky.

Leigh said...

It's looking great! What lovely flowers. I hope the retting goes better with this variety. There ought to be an heirloom flax out there somewhere.

fiberjoy said...

Such a sweet flower.

I'll try to do some poking around in this area and see what I can stir up. During the 20's or 30's flax was very successfully grown in the area just west us of. To the point that the Dutch protested and started creating roadblocks that made exporting it next to impossible. (If I correctly remember what I read in a pamphlet I came across while cataloging the pamphlet file some years ago.)

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