seed to sail

Flax Retting 2021

Retting 2021
I filled the pool from a hose tapped to our town water supply- treated water which is around 65 degrees. I assume the chlorine slows the growth of the microbial colonies until the chlorine evaporates. For 2022, I’m planning to set up a rain barrel and capture water for retting. I’m setting up a rain barrel to use for replenishing the pool throughout this ret.

It’s day 4 of retting, and things are moving along. The first two days were mid 70s during the day and 60s at night. This helped warm up the water. With the rain, temps have dropped into the 60s with prediction of mid 50’s at night. The colder temps will slow the retting process. I pulled back the sheeting so the rain could top up the water level in the retting pool. In another day or so, I’ll drain some of the water and top off the pool again.

The foam on the top of the water is a sign of fermentation taking place which means the microbes that break down the pectin have formed. Now, I just have to give them time. I’m going to ret further than I did last time. Everything I read talked about the dangers of overretting- and they are real! I found the boon broke easily but still adhered to the fibers in some of the last retting. This time I will dry several stems fully to check the ret.

I can always double ret if I find I didn’t let things process enough the first time. To double ret, I can either put the flax back in the pool- or I can follow up the pool retting with dew retting. Our temperatures drop pretty quickly once October rolls in, so it will be better to get things right the first time.

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