"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Flax seed has been an important part of our diet for a number of years now and we always seem to find room for a patch of it somewhere in the garden. Our golden flax is supposed to be an extremely rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids can be obtained from various sources: fish, purslane, nuts, and one of the very best sources is flax, having up to twice the amount as fish oil. The beneficial aspects of this seed are too numerous to mention in any detail. Let's just say that there is more than enough evidence to support the fact that these essential fatty acids are a very important part of a healthy diet, thus we grow flax, purslane, and eat both fish and nuts upon occasion.
But... there is always a but isn't there? A lot of controversy surrounds the facts about whether or not the average person can break down the constituents of flax, or any plant based omega-3, into the beneficial nutrients it provides as easily as with fish or nuts, especially those individuals who are not healthy to begin with. Me? I don't worry much about such things. We simply attempt to partake in all of these foods rather than concentrating on only one as a source of nutrition, hence a well balanced diet.
For us, flax has been a relatively easy crop to grow. After the last frost we plant ours a couple inches apart in a series of rows that run the width of the bed, we do it this way so that we are still able to weed in between the plants. Once our flax reaches a certain height the plants tend to fall over if we do not provide adequate support for them, support is provided by putting up a simple grid of twine that helps to hold the plants in place. One of the downfalls of having a sandy soil is that everything seems to need a little extra help remaining vertical. They grow well for us in partial sun with fairly rich soil, although I have seen many a stray volunteer thrive in the worst possible locations.
Perennial golden flax produces lovely sky blue flowers that will readily re-seed themselves each year if left to their own devices. We harvest ours when the vast majority of the seed heads have turned brown. The stalks are cut just below the last seed branch and set aside to finish drying for a few weeks at which point the seed is easily threshed out. The seeds are then stored in glass jars in a cool area with low humidity as flax has a tendency to become rancid due to the high oil content, especially once it is ground into flour. Ground flax can be kept in the freezer for a couple months or the refrigerator for a few weeks.
One of the more interesting things about flax is it's many and varied uses that stretch far beyond it's dietary supplementation. The plant via it's seeds and stalks can be used to make linseed and vegetable oil, paper, insulation, dye, hair gel, soap, thickening agents, fabric and the list goes on.
I really got to thinking about this the other day when Stefani from http://siciliansistersgrow.blogspot.com/ was kind enough to share a fellow bloggers brilliant post about the importance of textiles - http://abbysyarns.com/2007/10/should-everyone-spin-another-yarn-manifesto. In thinking about that post it dawned on me that in growing flax I have a source of textiles right in my back yard. We may indeed have to experiment with this aspect of flax in the future. Also, I found this most interesting essay on how to grow your own bowstring using flax stalks. This gives one a vision into how easily this plant material could be turned into a rough fiber that would have a wide array of applications that are directly related to the self sufficiency facet of our lives. -http://www.primitiveways.com/bowstring.html
Weary of the world and its illogical ways my wife and I have chosen a path towards self-reliance in all aspects of our lives. Our main focus is on growing and gathering our own food. We hope to use this blog as an avenue to share with and learn from others with similar interests.
The Good Life (click↓)
"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi
"Deep inside everyone of us is a call to the wild. Much of the impatience, discontent or violence around us is due to a lack of opportunity to reconnect with where we came from. For sanity and generosity of spirit, we should be able to witness nature at its unceasing, rejuvenating work." - Abdul Kareem
On Permaculture, Edible Landscaping and Garden Plants
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas
First They Came For My Seed..▼
"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" - Thoreau
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling, for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted. Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories where the machines were made that would drive ever forward toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley; I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city. I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments of those who had died in pursuit of the objective and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective. The once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free to sell themselves to the highest bidder and to enter the best paying prisonsin pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies, which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects, which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress, to the completed sale, to the signature on the contract, which was to clear the way to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go homewould ever get there now, for every remembered place had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant to make way for the passage of the crowd of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless with their many eyes opened toward the objective which they did not yet perceive in the far distance, having never known where they were going, having never known where they came from.