Month: April, 2013
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Starting Flax from Seed
We have had several questions as to whether our flax seed can be planted. This flax seed is an annual. The germination for our flaxseed is 85%. Which means 85 out of every 100 seeds will grow. If purchasing to plant, always purchase that for human consumption so there are very few weed seeds.
Flax can be started indoors, and then transplanted out later or just sown directly into the garden. If you have a short growing season, you may want to start your seeds inside so your plants can mature and go to seed before the frost. In small peat pots, plant seeds 5 weeks before your expected last frost date. Keep them in a sunny place and water often enough that the soil does not dry out. They take a while to germinate, so be patient.
Dig your soil well. Flax thrives on organic-rich soils so add in a good helping of aged manure or compost. Flax grows to 2-3 feet tall. The plants are very thin allowing weeds to overtake quite easily. Try to plant on fairly weed free ground.
Seeds can be sown out early in the spring, and covered in just a thin layer of soil. If doing a larger area you may broadcast by throwing handfuls out and letting it land where it may. Then lightly rake to cover.
If you are putting out started seedlings from indoors, its best to wait until the frost has passed.
You will want to water fairly frequently, though not overly heavily. Flax does best in moist but not soggy soils. Good drainage is important.
Harvest and Storage
Your seeds are ready to harvest when the large seed pods are yellow and starting to split open.
Cut the pods from the plants, and spread them out somewhere where they can dry further (not out in direct sunlight). Once the seeds are dead ripe and cannot be dented with a fingernail, you just have to separate them from their seed pods. For a small harvest, you can manually pop open each pod and take out the 4 to 6 small seeds inside.
If you have more flax to deal with, you can crush all the seed pods at once (also called threshing), by whatever means you wish. You can put them in a bag or pillowcase, and beat them against a railing or a chair, or even crush them underfoot.
Then you can use a fan or the wind to help sort the seeds from the debris. This step is called winnowing. Use a couple of containers, or even do it over a large sheet. Just pour handfuls of the debris from several feet up, and let the wind blow out the lighter pieces of leaves and seed pod. The heavier seeds will fall straight down.
As long as the seeds are completely dry, you can store them in any tight container for 2 years at room temperature. It can also be stored in the refrigerator.
For an expected harvest yield, a quarter acre of flax will provide you with at least a bushel of seed.
Categories: Flax Seed Nutrition