Plan for Cotton and Flax in Your Garden

| 10/8/2015 2:46:00 PM

Tags: cotton, flax, cover crops, garden planning, Cindy Conner, Virginia,


Gardens are wonderful places. We can feed ourselves from them, but they can produce so much more. I have grown cotton in my garden and have learned to spin and weave it. My personal challenge for 2016 is to grow flax to produce linen. I have to plan for that now, however, so that the garden beds are ready for the cotton and flax when it is time.

I manage my cover crops with hand tools, planning ahead so that the cover crop is in a stage for transition when I want the next crop to go in. If I managed the garden with a tiller, I wouldn’t have to be so careful about my cover crop choices now, since I could just till them in at the appropriate time.

Planting Flax

Flax will be planted in early spring. A preceding cover crop that has winterkilled would be appropriate here, such as radish or oats, but it is too late to be planting that now in October. Mulching the bed with leaves would be good. The bed will be weed-free come spring and will be warmed up if you pull off the leaves two weeks ahead of planting to allow the sun to reach the soil.


There is much to learn when turning flax fiber into linen and I’ll be writing about that in the coming year. The days to maturity for flax is 90-100 days from planting, so be prepared for a summer harvest. Then it will need to be rippled (seeds pulled off), retted (soaked in water or laid out in the dew), broken, scutched, hackled, and spun.

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