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Sow Flax

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Wild Fibres natural fibres > plant fibres > flax > grow flax > sowing flax

Sowing Flax for Fibre

Flax flowers
1) Which seed do I need?

2) What area will my seed cover?

3) How should I sow the flax?

4) When should I sow flax?

1) Which seed do I need?
If you want to grow flax to produce fibre for spinning linen yarn, then you need the right seed. The linen variety of flax seed produces tall straight plants that are easy to spin. These seeds are very hard to find and it took us three years to find a good source of linen flax seeds.

Linseed, which is sold in health food shops, produces plants that are shorter and branched and yields lots of seed but very poor quality fibre, which is not suitable for spinning.

Flax seed

2) What area will my seed cover?
You need about 13 grams of flax seed to cover one square metre. Your 100 gram packet will cover an area roughly 1.5 metres by 5 metres. It is best to sow the seeds in a block 1.5 metre wide rather than in a long row. Flax needs to be grown close together to produce good fibre and when sown in a block, the plants help to support each other too. As the plants are so close together, you cannot get inside the patch to weed it. Avoid, therefore, making the block wider than 1.5 metres as this width allows you to reach the centre of the block from both sides to weed the flax patch.

3) How should I sow flax?
Dig the soil well removing all the weeds, then go over with a rake till the soil is fine and smooth. Spread a little fertiliser, for example chicken manure pellets and rake again. You can then either sow flax in rows which is easier, or broadcast them.

    A) Sowing flax in rows

    B) Broadcasting flax seeds

    A) Sowing flax in rows
    The rows should be no further than 4 to 8 cm apart and it is easier to weed rows that are about 8 cm apart. You could mark the lines with a rake, but only use every third or fourth line. Drip the seed from your hand into the line and then go over the line with the back of the rake (i.e. the handle of the rake is straight up) and gently pat the soil over the seeds till they are no longer showing. This should be enough to deter the birds, but if you are worried about the birds, you could cover the area with a net.

    B) Broadcasting flax seeds
    Many books recommend that you broadcast the seeds by hand. However I found it very difficult to scatter the seeds evenly. After scattering the seeds you need to cover them with soil, otherwise the birds will eat them all. The easiest way of covering them is to go over with a rake, which tends to make the seed distribution even more uneven. Alternatively you can cover the seeds with a net until they germinate. I think broadcasting seeds is best left to experienced growers.

4) When should I sow flax?
In an average year, the best time for sowing flax is the last two weeks in March (in central England) but you can probably sow it in the first two weeks in April in most years and later in years with a late or delayed Spring. You might like to sow half your flax seeds in one week and the second half in the other. This prevents you becoming overwhelmed by all the flax becoming ready at once.

Harvesting Flax (opens a new page)

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Teresinha at Wild Fibres
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Gibb Street, Birmingham B9 4DT, UK

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email: info@wildfibres.co.uk

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Last updated on 02 June 2023
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