Many people may have never seen a plant called flax. However, you may be familiar with products made from flax, such as those who like the texture of linen and who eat flaxseed oil for their health. We will explain about flax, which gives a lot of blessings to our lives, the area where it is cultivated, how it grows, and the process of making linen and flaxseed oil.
What kind of plant is flax?
There is a plant called flax. Although it is a plant that is rarely seen, linen can be obtained from flax and flaxseed oil can be made, and the products are incorporated into our lives more than we imagined. First, let's talk about the plant flax.
Characteristics of flax as a plant
The scientific name of flax is Linum Usitatissimum, which is an annual plant of the flax family. Also known as Flax, the flower language is "gratitude." The origin is said to be the Asia Minor region, but the main origins today are northern France, Belgium, Russia, Eastern European countries, Canada, and the Chugoku region. All lands are relatively cold and suitable for flax cultivation.
Flax is a plant that is vulnerable to high temperatures and resistant to cold and dry. Flax is also characterized by its strong fertility.
If flax is continuously cultivated on the same land, the yield and quality will decrease, so it is usually rotated for 6 to 7 years. When it grows, it grows to about 1 meter in height and blooms pretty light purple flowers in summer.
Where are flax grown in Japan?
As mentioned above, flax that grows in cold regions is cultivated only in some areas of Hokkaido in Japan.
Flax was actively cultivated from the Meiji era to the Showa era in the Asabu district of Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido. Although flax cultivation has once disappeared, urban development activities that utilize flax are still ongoing.
One of the reasons for the decline in flax cultivation in Hokkaido is the rise of chemical fibers after the war. However, in 2000, there was a voice saying that flax would be a unique crop of Hokkaido. Then, a plan to revive flax cultivation was realized in Tobetsu Town, which is located 20 to 30 km northeast of Sapporo City, and then the Hokkaido Flax Renaissance Project is underway. As a result, flax cultivation has spread to the Tokachi and Kamikawa regions.
Reference: Hokkaido was the production center of flax
Flax growth and cultivation
Flax that blooms pretty flowers and produces linen and flaxseed oil. Let me introduce you how it is planted and grown.
How to plant flax
Flax can be cultivated in planters, flower beds and fields. Seeds should be sown by mid-May at the latest.
At that time, choose a well-drained place. To prevent it from falling when it grows and grows tall, cultivate the soil to a depth of at least 15 cm before sowing the seeds. The depth when sowing seeds is about 1 cm, and the sense of seeds is about 2 cm apart. If it is too deep, it will not easily come out of the soil even if it germinates, and if the sense between species is short, it will not grow freely. After sowing the seeds, cover it with soil. Add the same type and amount of fertilizer as ordinary flowers, but basically no watering is required. Water only if it doesn't rain too much and the surface of the soil cracks.
Flax germination-until withering
Flax begins to germinate 3 to 10 days after sowing, after which the true leaves emerge. Watering is basically unnecessary at this time as well. For about 45 days after sowing, flax grows rapidly and grows to a height of about 60 cm. If the soil surface is dry, water it a little. About 70 days after sowing, the five-petaled flowers will begin to bloom. The pretty flax flowers in light purple are very beautiful, and in Tobetsu-cho, Hokkaido, you can appreciate the flower fields and hold events. Flax flowers bloom at sunrise and disperse in the afternoon of the day, so many people visit Tobetsu as a beautiful and precious sight.
Linen can be obtained from flax stalks. During the summer, the stems are pulled out from the roots, and the fibers taken from them become linen.
Also, after the flowers bloom, they die, but at this time, a small pod about the size of a little finger is attached. The pod contains up to 10 flax seeds. This species is the source of flaxseed oil. You can also sprinkle it in the spring of the following year and enjoy the beautiful flowers that bloom in the summer. Linen and flaxseed oil that you use are made from the flax cultivated in this way. Let's continue to talk about linen and flaxseed oil.
From flax harvesting to product making
Linen, which is very popular for its natural texture, and flaxseed oil, which has great health and beauty effects, are both made from flax. I will explain the process in which each is made.
Until linen is made
In addition to its texture, linen has excellent features such as water absorption, divergence, breathability, and heat retention. Let's take a look at the process of how you can do it from flax. The state in which flax grows and is cut is called flux. The flux is left in the field for about a month.
This is to make it easier to take out the fibers in the stem by rotting the epidermis with rain soup. This process is called "letting". After the letting, the processing plant performs "scotting" to remove the linen fibers from the flux. It is a work to remove unnecessary parts other than fibers by removing the stem with a machine. After getting the process of loosening and smoothing the fibers, the flux becomes long and durable fibers at this point. The flux transferred to the spinning mill is separated into long fibers and short fibers while the yarn is roughly twisted or stretched and twisted. Impurities are removed from these fibers and arranged in parallel to eliminate uneven color and thickness. The bundle of fibers is spun with hot water to melt the pectin, and the resulting yarn is dried and spliced together to complete the linen yarn with the highest strength. To make this thread into a fabric, we will perform "warping". Warping, which determines the width of the fabric and the density of the warp threads, is the work of arranging the warp threads and weft threads evenly using a tool called a beam.
Linen is carefully made through many processes like this. Carefully made linen attracts many fans with the texture and excellent functions that only linen has. Tablecloths and bed linen, as well as clothing, have long been a favorite.
Until flaxseed oil is made
Flaxseed oil is an oil made from flax seeds. It is attracting attention for its health and beauty effects that are pleasing to modern people.
Flax seeds are extracted by the "cold press method" so that the original nutritional components are not destroyed. In that process, a large amount of flax seeds are put into an oil squeezing machine and squeezed. The squeezed flaxseed oil is squeezed and then filtered by a machine.
The yellowish oil extracted in this way is flaxseed oil. After this, there are two types, unrefined and refined. Since flaxseed oil is rich in a-linolenic acid, water-soluble and insoluble fiber, and lignans, it is effective in improving and preventing various diseases. Keep the intake of about 1 teaspoon a day. In addition, paying attention to the property of being sensitive to heat and easily oxidizing, it is necessary to devise ways to eat it raw and use it up quickly after opening.
Reference: Ingredients and characteristics of flaxseed oil
Love the beautiful lilac flowers, make strong and textured linen from the stems, and take flaxseed oil from the seeds, which is rich in the nutrients needed for modern human life, flax gives us great blessings. Will do it. Flax began to be cultivated in Egypt and Greece long ago, 10,000 years ago, and in Japan as far back as the Meiji era. Flax proves that the good old things never go out of fashion. Although I don't have many chances to see it, flax is actually a familiar plant considering the products it makes. It may be interesting to try cultivating it yourself so that you can feel its familiarity. By cultivating, you may be able to enjoy both flax, which can make various products that are useful to people, and flax, which makes pretty flowers bloom.