This summer, has been vary different from what I had expected at the beginning of 2020. With covid19’s arrival, we have not been out much, so even weeding the flax patches a month ago seemed wildly exciting, well more so than last year weeding seemed. we are even more excited about being part of the Flax study group for year 2, since we get a chance to see some of our guild friends even if we are a bit farther apart than we normally would be.
Last time i updated you on that fabulous fun of weeding the flax. We had intended to do a second weeding but our plans did not work out. Instead we had a very Hot Dry spell. You may have noticed the temperature while i was felting outside (in the shade).
On July 12th, Cathy Louise let us know the flax was almost ready for harvest. The blast of heat pushed the seed ripening faster than we had expected. The flax stalk are not as tall as we hoped but if the seed is ready it’s time to harvest!
1 the flax is waiting for us
So, we set a Saturday most of us could attend and on July 25th we met to harvest this year’s 2 rows of flax. We had a brief chat and inspection to check the ripeness of the seeds in both rows and realized that much of the flax had ripe seed, so we would harvest all of it now. Last year we did a large harvest and saved a small amount to see if the fully ripe seed would have better germination. (You can see the germination rate from both harvest times produced similar results.) From the pictures, you can see that both rows had very similar success. We also found that a clump in the west row had been seeded more densely than the rest of the flax and it both helped support the naboughring stocks and had less weed intrusion. If we continue with year 3 we may try to increase from the recommended seed density.
2-4 ripe and ready to harvest
We took out the support string that had been added to support the flax in case of heavy rain.
5-6 removing the support strings
We then dispersed ourselves to start the picking on both rows, from both ends.
As we did last year when we harvested the flax, we selected a small amount of flax and pulled it up with the roots. The dirt knocked off and a stock or two is used to tie the bundle together.
7-9 bundling flax
10-26 Flax harvest in progress
As we gathered and tied the flax, we started to line the bundles up along the fence to dry. You can see the line of flax growing behind the flax pickers.
27-30 drying bundle collect along the fence
31-32 pile wating to go to the fence
We have about 1/3rd of the rows picked, you can see the weeds that that have been left after the flax is removed.
33-34 flax picked weeds remain
We kept going and soon were finding more weeds than flax were left.
35-40 starting to run out of flax
One of our team was collecting the weeds for his pigs and chickens to enjoy!
Can you see the flax bundles along the fence at the back of the patch and continuing to the left along the fence and into the market garden.
44-46 the flax drying line grows
47-48 the harvest drying
This is the after harvest shot and the weeds are being collected.
49-50 Most of the flax harvesting team
Here is our harvest team at the end of this years harvest (Glenn myself and Cathy Louise are missing from the large group shot)
The flax sat drying along the fence, then it was turned and continued drying.
51-54 Drying in the heat and sun
Once it was completely dry, (now we got the rain we needed earlier), it was collected and moved to the barn to await the next step. Separate the seed from the stock, Decapitation, which will be violent and exciting!!! But more on that next time!
55-56 the unsuspecting dried flax awaiting us