Thursday, March 06, 2014


The icicles that surround our cabin are slow to melt. I see the world outside my window through frozen bars of ice. Ice Jail. I am ready to be freed from my indoor chambers.

Even though the morning thermometer readings are close to zero, my calendar helps keep track of the days, and gives me encouragement. Spring will come, and it will be time to plant. I need to be ready. I reach for the jar of Hungarian Flax seed that I rippled from the plants I raised last fall. It is time to free the seeds from the boll.

The USDA sent me only 200 seeds to start with. Flax seed is generally self pollinating, but cross and even outcrossing can occur. I'm not sure these seeds will all be true to type. There was another variety of flax (Elektra) that was going nearby, and though most of it matured earlier, there is a chance they cross pollinated.

I open each boll by crushing it with a spoon. The base of the boll shows the different segments (they look like little chambers), the wall that separates the segments is called the septum. On average, I'm finding about 7 seeds per boll, and have found as many as 9. Occasionally, there will be only 1 seed in the entire boll.

The color of the seed is lighter than I expected. See the shiny coating? That is the mucilage. If you soak the seeds in water, the mucilage is released and makes a sort of jell that is silky and slippery. Flax mucilage is used when spinning flax to smooth down the wispy ends and hairy surface of the spun linen thread. The mucilage maybe also be used to dress or treat the warp on the loom when weaving with linen. The dressing (when dry) helps to prevent the warp threads from sticking together.

After about an hour of this task of crushing the bolls, I have counted 370 seeds. I have only removed about half of the bolls from the jar so I am very happy with the number. I at least doubled the count that I originally started with. Now remains the test of germination.

So, yes. Spring is coming and although the landscape outside does not show much of a change, the extended daylight hours are upon us! The sun gives me great pleasure on those days that it chooses to shine. I find a spot to soak up the warmth and light and bathe in its goodness.


Cathy said...

Soon...soon your ice jail will melt. I hope you don't deal with ice jams and flooding, though.

Interesting about the flax seeds- I always learn so much from you.

Valerie said...

Yes those flax seeds are light, compared to the ones I grind up to put in my yogurt. I wonder what kind of flax seed Bob's Red Mill sells?

Ice jail sums it up perfectly. My mind is tuned to the same concern Cathy expresses. I've quit groaning about yet another inch of snow arriving, and have started to be worried about just where all this stuff is going to go when it begins to melt. According the the weather service we've had 83+ inches of snow this season.

Vlaďka Cepáková said...

You have strong winter like we had last year. There was long winter ,too much snow and frost in my country. But this year? No snow, no rain, only a little frost. Is it better? I don´t know. I feel something is wrong. It is too early for blooming trees.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Do the different flax seeds look different? or do you have to wait until they germinate and produce?? It looks like you will have a plenty this year.
Those icicles remind me of my childhood. The icicles were huge and were so threatening to me.

Judy said...

Can you save the mucilage jel in a container or freeze it to use later? When you are done with your flax seeds you might want to pull out some wool..another storm is coming Wednesday!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Neat, neat, neat!

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