Flax is a highly nutritious omega-3-rich seed. It grows on lush knee-high stalks with pretty periwinkle colored flowers that open in the daytime and close at night. Flax plants are a beautiful ornamental plant with several practical applications.
Flax plants should be started in mid-to-late spring. You can simply plant flax seeds from the bulk section of the grocery store. They grow well in the ground and in containers, and do well in fairly crowded conditions, making flax a great option for a smaller space or container garden. A good mulch and daily watering will help these plants thrive. They'll grow well into the fall.
Flax seeds can be harvested in late fall when the plant turns brown and the bulbs are dry and golden colored. To collect flax seeds, just separate the dried bulbs from the stalk and pinch to remove the seeds. Each bulb will have about 10-15 seeds.
In addition to edible seeds, flax plants also provide the fibers used to make linen. It is possible to do this yourself, but it's a complex process. The seeds can also be pressed for linseed oil for cooking or as an oil painting medium.
(Images: 1 & 3: Potted flax plants, Kathryn Wright 2. flax flowers, wikipedia commons)
(Re-edited from a post originally published on 6.16.2010 - CM)