August 15, 2013

Flax For Seed

A June photo of flax flowers, forming seed pods, and marigolds.

One of the new things I planted this year was flax. Sometimes fiber artists grow it for the fiber to make linen; I grew it for the seed. Not for us, mind you; I don't care for flax no matter how much Omega-3 essential fatty acids it contains, I don't like the taste. I grew the seed for the chickens and goats.

Dried flax seed pods

After making a bed of beautiful, tiny blue flowers all summer, it was ready to harvest when most of the plants were dried and brown. Like many other things, all the pods aren't ready to harvest at the same time, but I wanted to get most of them before the pods shattered and scattered their seed onto the ground.

Still to come will be the job of threshing, although I may see what the goats think of them pods and all. They enjoy the cowpea pods and the extra roughage is healthy for them.

I planted one packet of seed which was enough for one bed, about 3 or 4 feet by 16 feet. Like other things, I consider this first harvest to be a seed crop. I'll save it to plant next year for a larger harvest. Eventually I'll figure out how much I need to plant to have a year's worth plus seed for sowing.

Flax For Seed © August 2013 by Leigh at 


Anonymous said...

This is very cool. Will be curious to see how the goats like it.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I have never seen flax before, I may have to look into it. We have linen that my great grandmother made from flax, that seems amazing based on what the plant looks like.

Benita said...

If the goats like it pods and all, then all the better for you. Are you even going to try to get some fiber out of the plant stems?

Nina said...

I've been mulling around trying to grow some flax next year, but for fibre of course. I know we have a long enough season for growing it, but not sure if we can grow, ret and process in one season, before the snow flies.

Hostetter said...

Love the picture change at the top.

Hey you have any rabbits around. I would love to know if they would eat/thrive on the flax straw/seed. I have never seen anything written about flax and if it is good for goats, horses, rabbits. I'm sure the chickens will love it.


Leigh said...

Stephanie, I buy bulk flax seed for them and they do like it. Now I'm curious to see whether or not they'll eat the pods.

Sunnybrook, linen is amazing, albeit an intense to process from flax. The plants are really attractive.

Benita, I'm hoping they like those pods! It will definitely be easier on me. I'm not planning to ret the stems this time around, but if I grow flax regularly, I will give that a try some day.

Nina, all you can do is give it a try!

Hostetter, thanks! I really like our guinea keets. :)

I think flax is an excellent addition to any diet. The seeds at least, are good for chickens and goats. I'm not sure about the plant itself. It would be interesting to have it analyzed for nutrient values. Since I'm not going to save the stems for fiber, I should at least try them out as straw.

Ellen and Adrian said...

I'm trying to hand-thresh my barley and wheat harvest while I watch TV at night :) The Faust Hulless Barley seems to be do-able (for seed and for eventual human consumption processing), but I may just keep most of my seedheads whole for feeding to the rabbits and chickens a handful at a time, and hull only what I personally need for seed and flour. The rabbits will doubtless lose some seed whilst eating, but I often dump their pans and let the chickens pick through for 'treats' before composting anyway, and I hope to eventually have all my rabbits outside in breezy, large wire cages and the chickens will roam underneath to clean up. Very interested in flax.

Kathy said...

I'm with you, Leigh! Flax products and I don't seem to get along unless it was in oil paints. I have problems every time I try to eat it.
My flax is doing well, in parts. We've had temps in the 30s already and part of the patch went brown before blossoming. I am try a "test ret" on those I pulled up to see if they actually produced usable flax for spinning.

luckybunny said...

Awesome post, thank you so much for it. Since I'm still recovering and going a little crazy, I've decided to start researching growing grains and wheats for the first time and your blog has so much wonderful information I've read before but I'm going back over it now since I'm thinking it's a great project for me to try too once I get better and on my feet. Always appreciate your blog for many reasons but for sure you have some very educational posts and it's really helpful! and it's keeping me occupied so thank you for that too! :)

Sandy Livesay said...


I've tried flax seed, I'm not impressed. I hope the animals like the seed, please update us.

Leigh said...

Ellen and Adrian, I've come to the same conclusion about how much grain to process. It's quite a process. I planted some hulless oats in the garden, just a small patch for seed. Hopefully I can get more next year.

Kathy, I'm going to be watching your flax growing with interest. Can't say I like the flavor of flax, in anything, but the goats like it. :)

Donna, thank you so much. I love to share what I learn. I'm always hoping it will be useful to someone besides me. :)

Sandy, that makes quite a few of us, LOL. My chickens and goats both like flax, but it would be nice if the goats like the pods too. I'll let you know what they think. :)

Su Ba said...

I've been waiting to see what happened with the flax. I've never tried growing it, but I'd like to give it a try. So, did you have any problems with it? Did it self-stand or did you need to give it support? Since you mentioned the seed pods shatter, then I assume it's not difficult threshing the seed out. I wonder if the chickens would find the seeds without threshing.

I'd like to grow it for the chickens. Interesting that your goats like it. Maybe I'll try it on my sheep and see what their opinion of flax is.

Thanks for the update!

ravenous-reader-book-reviews said...

We planted lots in our little garden this year for the sole purpose of saving seeds. It can be tedious sometimes (Black-eyed Susans), but I think will be totally worth it next year!

Leigh said...

Su Ba, it was problem free, really. I read to sow heavily so that the plants will support one another, so that's what I did. I had plenty of volunteer marigolds on either side of the bed which helped prop it up too!

So far it hasn't been difficult to thresh, but I suspect winnowing will be more of a challenge because the seeds are so lightweight. Chickens certainly know how to get wheat out of a head, but I haven't tried the flax yet. I figure at the least I can thresh without winnowing and they'll find the seeds. :)

ravenous-reader-book-reviews, I so agree about seed saving being worth it. I should mention that I cheat a bit, and often just leave flower seeds in the pods. I just crush and scatter when I plant!