Tradition Restarted: Sowing Flax

Three acres have now been sown by hand.
Once again this year we used a traditional tool for broadcasting seeds called a fiddle, so called because of its resemblance to the musical instrument. We have experimented with different methods and have found that the fiddle performs the best for us, dispersing the flax seed at the correct rate. It is how our relatives would have completed this task in these same fields many years ago. It has a bag or box which is filled with seeds and the arm or bow is moved from side to side to release the seeds. 
The varieties we planted this year are called Avian and Lisette, both suitable for textiles and both did well for us last year in spite of some challenging weather conditions during the growing period. Every year we also plant out some small plots for growing heritage varieties for seed. These have some interesting names such as Stormont Motley and Stormont Gossamer.
Now we watch and we wait, counting the days until harvest. Traditionally flax is ready to pull after one hundred days and this has indeed been our experience so far.
The harvest is one of the highlights of our year. Flax is best pulled by hand, as this preserves the full length of the fibres for making into linen. It is a huge amount of work. Friends and family all show up to help us, ready to work hard, to have fun and to be part of restarting the tradition of growing flax here at Mallon farm.

There is plenty of chat, laughter and there is always a pot of freshly dug potatoes on the go.

Follow us on Instagram or Facebook for regular updates on this year's crop.
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