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What to do in winter - growing plant textiles

 
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Still too much winter on the ground?  There's a lot we can do to get ready for growing textiles.

I started my flaxseed germination tests.  I'm working with unfamiliar seed so I want to know how well it grows so I can guess how thickly to plant it.  



I've also started my cotton seeds.  

I've got a bit of cleaning up to do, but I hope to start some more dye plant seeds this week.  I'm curious if the madder seeds I gathered last year will germinate.  
cotton-germ.JPG
cotton seedlings
cotton seedlings
 
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Can you plant flax seed that you bought for food, I have some in the cupboard (called linseed but I think this is the same). It looks to be a pretty plant in flower :)
 
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Your other post, https://permies.com/t/flaxtolinen#379475 has answered my question as to whether you would be able to grow to make linen - I guess it would still be pretty though :)
 
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Zoe Ward wrote:Can you plant flax seed that you bought for food, I have some in the cupboard (called linseed but I think this is the same). It looks to be a pretty plant in flower :)



You can absolutely grow flaxseed/linseed (the same thing, it just gets a different name if it's food or not) from the grocery store.  But, it helps to do a germination test first as sometimes they can be a bit old.  The germination test gives you an idea of how many will grow and how close together to put the seeds.

 
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Zoe Ward wrote:Your other post, https://permies.com/t/flaxtolinen#379475 has answered my question as to whether you would be able to grow to make linen - I guess it would still be pretty though :)



That was written 6 years ago, and I've learned a lot since then.  

There is a lot of mythology about linen and a lot of people saying "you cannot..." or "you must..." and because the people were older and wiser than me, I believed them.

Not so much these days.  

Reading further down that thread, I've done some experiments.   A lot of the "you cannot..." and "you must..." turn out to actually mean "it sometimes doesn't work when..." and "I like to do it this way...".  The people who told me the one true path were parroting what they were taught and because they were taught by people who were older and wiser, they believed what they were told.  Whereas these myths started hundreds of years ago on the other side of the world - where the weather, soil, and seeds were very different than they are today.  

It's worth experimenting.  Try small batches of doing things wrong.  It might turn out that the 'wrong' way actually works for your climate and soil.  
 
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Raven, your seed germination picture in your first post identifies those babies as "cotton". Productivity-wise, in your climate, would you feel flax or cotton would be the best choice for a small, newby producer?

Possibly, let me add, is there another west-coast friendly plant that would be even better for beginners? I understand there is a New Zealand plant that people grow ornamentally here, that's actually a fiber plant, and that the First Nations People actually made fine cloth, not just rope and twine, out of Nettle.  

So much of this sort of knowledge is slipping away - I really hope people take up the challenge and grow their own clothes as well as their own food in sustainable ways.
 
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Flax does really well in my city.  

Cotton needs a bit of coddling - which is not my normal gardening style.  Think really fussy tomatoes or chilli peppers.  With my utter neglect style, I'm only getting a cotton harvest 3 out of every 5 years.  

BUT!  Cotton does well as a houseplant and is a perennial.  It has stunning flowers and foliage.  I imagine cotton as a house plant would do well in every climate.

New Zealand "flax" (often called Phormium by those who can pronounce it) also makes fibre and some varieties grow well here.  Other varieties don't like our winter. I've only played a little bit with it and sadly all but one of my plants have died.  again, the neglect factor may not agree with them.  
 
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