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Archive for the ‘Harvesting Sunflower Seeds’ Category

Besides roses, we have beds of other flowers including annuals that give color all season and where we also slip in a couple of rows of string beans, some basil and one tomato plant. Just one. No matter what variety of tomato we plant, they all ripen in August and that one plant yields a tsunami of fruit quickly. A sprig of basil and a slice of mozzarella cheese added to a thick slice of fresh tomato and a glass of chilled white wine creates a summertime treat.

This season, after a hiatus of a few years, we added sunflowers to this eclectic side garden. We planted seeds in early June only to discover the following day that each seed was neatly excavated and eaten. We replanted and the same thing happened only this time I observed the seed lifting. The perp was a crafty chipmunk sneaking around early in the morning.

We replanted once again only this time in small pots on a garden bench where the chipmunk was unlikely to find them. They soon germinated and when 10 inches high we transplanted them into the garden where they grew amazingly fast in mid-summer heat.

Our sunflowers topped out at 10’2”,  producing a flamboyant display for a few weeks in early September. Each plant featured a single platter-sized corona chock full of seeds.

We chose a popular variety that we had grown before called Mammoth, a behemoth of a plant that rockets to 10 feet and beyond and produces one humongous corona 12 inches across – all from one little seed.

But once the peak goes by, the heavy coronas sag and get raided by squirrels who have discovered the rich seed source. The bright yellow florets quickly turn brown and the once-elegant foliage now looks shabby. It’s time to remove these deteriorating giants with a football-sized root ball and harvest the seeds.

First, we had to cut the coronas off before we lost everything to hungry squirrels and hung them to dry for two weeks and then shucked the seeds into a colander. We will put a handful aside to plant next year and use the rest in our bird feeders this winter.

Sunflowers are easy to grow, requiring little care, are available in every size and can fit in any garden. There are no flowers more cheerful, flashy and optimistic than these spectacular golden coronas in full bloom in late summer. An image especially welcome this year.

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