by Tammy Taylor~
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I love sunflowers! As a matter of fact they may be my absolute favorite flower. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re super easy to grow, they bloom prolifically and I’ve always said “Yellow is a HAPPY color!” I plant a row of Mammoth Sunflowers at the edge of my garden every year. I love the look of the cheery yellow blossoms. And my mom always comments about how beautiful they are when she visits.
This year I planted the sunflowers along the chicken fence side of the garden. Those huge sunflower plants offer shade during the heat of the day for my chickens. Oh, and our bees love them too. That’s a lot of bang for my package-of-seeds buck! But now it’s time to harvest those sunflower seeds. Come see what I did.
This year’s sunflower story goes back to last year. I had planted a row of mammoth sunflower seeds in my garden as I usually do. When they had finished blooming I harvested the seeds from one of those huge flower heads to replant. Since it wasn’t a heirloom variety I knew the resulting plants wouldn’t come back true to the parent plant. But I was curious to see what I’d get.
When I planted them this spring I got a variety of very tall plants. Some had the single large sunflower head with all the sunflower seeds like the parent plant. Some were equally tall but had a somewhat smaller sunflower bloom. Some (equally tall) had many regular-sized sunflower blossoms. Beautiful! I really love the one with the many blossoms. So maybe I should try this experiment again. I’ll harvest from the large sunflower head this year & plant again next year to see what I get.
The large bloom unfurled its beautiful yellow petals & was absolutely breathtaking. Then as the weight increased it dipped it’s heavy head downward as those big blooms always do. Finally the petals dried and fell off leaving just the head of sunflower seeds. I left the head on the plant for several days to help dry the seeds in this NE Texas heat. But now it’s time to harvest those seeds. Thankfully it couldn’t be easier!
I took my pruners to the garden to fetch that head of seeds. I had to reach waaaaay up to cut that heavy sunflower head from the plant. Then I brought it to my covered porch and allowed it to dry a little more thoroughly. As long as nothing comes to snack on this sunflower head, I can leave it here as long as I like.
So I’m harvesting these sunflower seeds now. Get out your sharpened #2 pencils kids, here’s the complicated instructions:
I clean off any clinging flower matter remaining on the head. Then I bring the head of sunflower seeds into my kitchen. Holding the huge bloom in my hand, I use my thumbs to dislodge the dried seeds. Yep, that’s it!
The sunflower seeds often sit spread out on newspaper for several more days just to assure they’re completely dry before I gather them up & put them in a paper bag for storage. Some people enjoy roasting/eating the seeds but RancherMan & I don’t. So I typically give them to our chickens or add them to our wild birdseed mix. And of course I’ll hold back a few to plant next spring too. The stripped-clean head will go into the *Tumbling Composter. Nothing goes to waste!
But instead of giving these seeds to the chickens, this year is a little different. My little niece is getting married soon. My sis wants to make gift bags that contain sunflower seeds for attendees. Wedding guests can then plant them and enjoy the beauty of sunflowers all season long! This is perfect timing! I offered these seeds to my sister for the wedding. She’ll place them into cute little bags with stickers that say *”Watch Our Love Grow” and offer them to the wedding guests. What a wonderful (and environmentally friendly) gift!
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