Friday, June 28, 2024

Rolling With the Punches 
A Thriving Linen Flax Plot and… 
the Death of a Plot

Update on the Gale Woods Farm linen flax plot

Image of long row of flax stalks in field

The Gale Woods plot is thriving! On June 20th, I saw the first flower in bloom. Actually, there were three flowers in bloom in the entire plot, which indicates that I probably arrived on the first day of the bloom. 

One blue flax flower in bloom

This was earlier than I expected to see the first blooms. Surprises are part of the process! The total time from sowing to bloom was precisely 44 days. 

Flax flower next to measuring stick

It was interesting that the blooms were not on the tallest stalks. I guess height is not necessarily an indicator of bloom readiness. The average stalk height was around 30 inches.

Gale Woods flax plot with yardstick showing the general height of the stalks

I revisited the plot this past Wednesday (June 26th), 

Long row of flax stalks on June 26th

and there are multiple blooms! It was a windy day, so getting the flowers to stand still for their portrait was difficult, 

so I made a video of the flowing stalks. (Turn up your sound to experience the site. At 7 seconds, there is the faint call of a farm rooster!)

Measuring stick showing height of flax stalks

The tallest stalks are now over 36 inches—beyond the reach of my yardstick—and many are 42 inches tall! There are still several shorter stalks, and they are all looking very healthy.

Hand holding a bunch of blue flax flowers in field

Based on the number of buds ready to burst with flowers, I suspect that starting this weekend, the plot will be in a great blooming phase, which, considering the number of stalks, might last one to two weeks. Get out there soon, or you will miss the bloom time! Each flower only survives for a few hours, which I can testify is true since I watched a flower drop all its petals during the short time I visited the plot around midday. 

Update on my personal linen flax plot

Now, some bad news, at least for me. This summer has shown no mercy for my poor personal plot. If you have been following this journey through the weeks, you know that my plot had challenges in its not-so-sunny location and being near the end of a house downspout. And we have had a LOT of rain this summer in our part of Minnesota. With one particularly heavy overnight deluge, my stalks became lodged (laid on the ground). I hoped they might recover, but they never even got a chance to try. The downpours of rain have been relentless. I finally have accepted this: my plot is toast.

Image of flattened flax stalks lying on the ground

Goodbye, personal plot! (And hello to needing to purchase flax stalks for any workshops I might schedule in the next year. Darn!)


As any gardener or farmer can tell you, the ability to roll with the punches is essential. The whims of nature will always be a factor. But after several years of trying to produce a decent linen flax crop at home, my rose-colored glasses are finally put away. I am convinced that, as things are, my home location is never going to work as a site to grow linen flax. I will need to look elsewhere. Fortunately, for this year, I have the Gale Woods Farm plot to follow and process (crossing my fingers that no significant weather events will affect that plot!). So, the remainder of my blog this summer and fall will follow the Gale Woods project. Onward!


Friday, June 14, 2024

Flax Weeding is Done – Now Growing is the Focus

Update on the Gale Woods Linen Flax Crop 

Image of flax plot row.

I visited the plot at Gale Woods Farm today. No more weeding is necessary! The crop is filling in very nicely. Grasses around the area have been mowed, so it’s easier to see the plot from the entrance road. It has been raining nearly every other day, in fact, almost too often, so watering the crop hasn’t been needed for a while. We are expecting some warmer days ahead (80+ Fahrenheit), and it will be interesting to see if the crop bolts in height during that period or slows down.

Close-up of flax stalks and measuring stick showing height

I remembered to bring my yardstick to check the actual height this time. There are various stalk heights, with the differences being roughly between 14 and 21 inches. This makes sense since some sprouts didn’t emerge until about a week after the first seedlings. If they grow at a rate of one inch a day, which I have been observing, that seven-inch difference in height would be expected. I suspect the heights will even out as they grow and mature.

Image of blue damselfly on garden bed.

A very pretty Damselfly, the Enallagma, seems to be attracted to the stalks. These damselflies (Bluets) have also been visiting my flax and sitting on the stalks, which is a good thing since, from my research, I have found they eat aphids, mayflies, and small flies that are harmful to plants. The things you learn when growing flax!


Other than that, there isn’t any significant news to report. It’s simply time for the crop to grow and eventually develop flower buds—although that will be several weeks from now.


Update on My Personal Linen Flax Plot 

With all the rain we have been experiencing, the trees around my plot have become even denser. Therefore, there is even less sun hitting the plot than last week. There has still been growth, though. The tallest stalks are around 25 inches, with a range between 20 and 25 inches.

Image of green flax stalks and measuring stick showing their height


Friday, June 7, 2024

Linen Flax Enjoys the Month of June 

Update on the Gale Woods plot

Yesterday, I was doing a minor weeding of the linen flax plot at Gale Woods Farm—mainly looking for more thistles. The best part of the work is being outdoors on a gorgeous June morning! Aside from needing to button up to avoid ticks and douse myself in mosquito repellent, there is nothing like a real garden experience in open fields in June! Huge, puffy clouds were sliding across the most intense blue sky. There was a crazy wind, though—gusts of 30+ mph. But that was natural bug repellent! Yay!

Image of blue sky with farm field below.

Above: The flax plot is in the foreground. Use your close-up vision to see the red barn and silo in the distance!

Image showing a long row of flax stalks in field

It was fabulous to see the dramatic growth in the plot! It is beautiful! At one month (precisely 30 days), the stalks are tall enough to blow in the wind (on average, they are about 8–10 inches tall). It is a wondrous sight! If you come out to visit, the plot is easier to see now that the stalks are poking up more from the surroundings. Look for it behind the fence, to the right along the entrance road, and across from the red pavilion building. There are some tall grasses between the metal fence and the plot. You will need to climb over the open wooden fence to get closer to the metal garden fence. (Careful about ticks in this area!) Perhaps in another month, the plot will be visible without going over the wooden fence.

One section towards the middle of the plot has meager growth with smaller stalks. Why? I don’t have a clue. Maybe there was something in the soil in that area—too much or too little of a particular nutrient? Maybe that bunch of seeds was less vigorous? It is curious.


Update on my personal plot

It’s a mixed bag of heights between the front and back of the plot. They all received the same amount of moisture and were sown and emerged at mostly the same time, so I assume the height difference is because of inconsistent sunlight. The stalks in the front receive more sun and are dramatically taller. 

After nearly 2 months of growth (precisely 54 days), the maximum height is 17 inches. That is almost halfway to their final ideal height (about 40–48 inches). However, due to the sunlight issue, I suspect my crop will be shorter at harvest time than the Gale Woods flax, even though they are the same flax variety. We shall see! (Having mostly dense woods for a backyard is wonderful, especially for the fireflies that will soon be dancing back there, but it’s not optimal for a linen flax crop!)

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Linen Flax Growing Project Update 

Gale Woods Farm Linen Flax

I was at the farm on 5/30/24 to see how the flax (and weeds) were growing. As suspected, the thistle continues to make its mark on the south end of the plot, as do a few other smaller weeds throughout. I pulled the unwelcome plants for 2 hours with relatively good success. 

The plants have grown to a height that makes them generally too tall to step on, yet the weed problem needs to be handled. Due to the timing of the plot proposal and other factors, the plot was only plowed a few times this spring before sowing. A fall plot preparation is ideal, but that wasn't a possibility in this scenario. This less-than-ideal situation is becoming more apparent as the soil is becoming more than just a home for the flax seedlings. I will need to continue weeding next week, but I hope this will be the last intensive weeding session. 

Close-up image of flax plants in field row.

After 3 weeks of growth, the seedlings are becoming stalks! The average height was about 4 inches, although I forgot to bring my measuring stick.

Personal Flax Plot

Measuring stick showing 12 inches of flax plant growth in field.

These plants are vigorous! The tallest ones are 12 inches. It's possible that they would be taller in a location with more sunlight, but they are still thriving with the cooler weather and steady rain we have been experiencing.

Close-up image of top of flax plant holding a water drop.

Linen flax LOVES a wet, cool, humid environment! This one wants to hold onto a water droplet after a rainstorm!