THE JOY OF FLAX (PART 1)
With its cobblestone streets, mouthwatering chocolate, and mind-blowing beer, Belgium is a wondrous place brimming with endless beauty, craftsmanship, and inspiration.
It is also where Alain and I grew up, and together, discovered our passion for authentic Belgian Linen. A passion, that to this day, is continually influenced by the rich culture, vibrant history, and picturesque countryside of our youth.
From Field to Fabric
Prized for its superior quality, softness, and breathability, linen is naturally cultivated from the flax plant, an incredibly sustainable fiber regarded as one of the strongest in the world.
Belgium, with its rich soil and mild North Sea climate, is ideally suited for growing flax, and along with Northern France and the Netherlands, accounts for more than 80% of its worldwide production.
In addition to its cultural and regional expertise, Belgium boasts over 2,000 farms that grow flax as well as multiple linen weaving mills, many of which were founded as far back as the 19th century; their skillful artistry passed down for generations.
With a relatively short growing cycle of 100 days, the Belgian landscape blossoms in a burst of breathtaking blue, only to last but a single day before the delicate flowers fall from the plant, disappearing as quickly as they first arrived.
Now that Spring is officially upon is, what better way to celebrate the coming flax harvest than with a closer look at this uniquely Belgian rite of passage.
A New Flax Season
The finest linen begins with the finest flax.
Between March and April, flax farmers all across Belgium carefully follow the changing of the seasons, waiting for just the right time to prepare their fields for sowing.
A deep, rich soil is essential to a healthy harvest, as flax, like tobacco, quickly depletes the nutrients from the ground it’s planted in. Luckily, Belgium’s silty soil and damp oceanic climate provide optimal growing conditions for this hearty plant.
The soil is thoroughly tilled to create a fine, crumbly texture, then worked into a good seedbed by discing, harrowing, and rolling. This process creates multiple rows in the soil as a steady air stream blows the flax seeds into these rows.
Unless the weather is especially hot and dry, flax requires minimal watering. The region’s natural moisture of rainfall and morning dew is usually more than ample.
Flourishing in cool environments, thorough and routine weeding is imperative, as flax plants are poor competitors with weeds.
An extremely fast growing plant, the first visible signs of a successful sowing will appear in as early as two weeks.
Distinguished by glossy, bluish-green leaves, these hearty plants will soon grow three to four feet in height, heralding the unforgettable summer bloom to come.
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