The sunflowers have been so productive! They’re not toweringly tall, but that’s ok by me – I want them to put all that effort into making seed heads, not growing up to where I can’t reach ’em.
I had been wondering when to harvest sunflowers, as the seeds aren’t fully ready yet when the petals drop off. I thought maybe I was supposed to wait, like one does with winter squashes, until the vine dies? But then I was sure I’d lose them all to squirrels and other varmints. One site I read said to wait until the back of the flower turned “banana yellow”… whatever that is. So I waited, and waited…. and the ones that had ripened first began to blacken and mildew. Oops! I chucked em to the chickens and they ate most of them anyway.
Instead, I looked for a different sign that the seeds were ready: empty seed hulls on the ground. Yup, birds and squirrels had been at the heads already, but that was ok by me – they only took a small amount from each flower, after all. I quickly snapped up the rest of the flowers – about half – that were at about the same stage of readiness.
I bundled them up in an onion bag and they’ll finish drying in the basement near the dehumidifier.
Since our family really doesn’t care too much for sunflower seeds, these will be purely a chicken treat. They’re pretty high in protein and should help cut down on their feed costs. All I have to do is chuck a whole seedhead in there – no shucking or cleaning or picking required – and they demolish it.
And oh yeah – see that bouquet? I’m growing ornamental sunflowers too!
Enough that Sofía could open up her own “lemonade-style” stand in front of our house. Nobody stopped on the street, but once they heard she was selling, a few of my dear mom-friends came by and absolutely made her day.
All that cheery beauty throughout the summer, almost zero maintenance, and a great food supplement for the chooks? I’m going to grow sunflowers every year from now on!