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!


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