Monday, May 04, 2009

On Growing Sunflowers

We have a new project this year that the Cherubs are very excited about, and they asked me to share it here incase other families might like to try something like this too.

Last week the Cherubs and I built a raised 8x8 bed, and filled it full of good soil mixed with well-composted cow manure and mushroom compost. (We have terrible dirt here so we usually need to mix something with the clay before planting to help the plants succeed.) However, you can usually grow sunflowers in any loose healthy dirt that has at least 8 hours of bright sun exposure each day. You do not have to build a special "bed" for them. They are quite hearty and pretty adaptable. (Oh, and the seeds are really easy to locate and are usually very inexpensive !)

Then, we planted a wide variety of Sunflowers (multiple colors, multiple size blooms, multiple "types, including of sourse some Mammoth sunflowers which grow to be 12 feet tall). We also planted some free seeds sent to us by Hunt For The Bees -- The Great Sunflower Project.

And today, after 2+ days of rain, we noticed that our baby sunflowers have sprouted. All over the raised bed are little sprouts with 2 "tell tale" green leaves. It's hard to believe that those tiny sprouts will grow to be beautiful flowers ranging from 4 feet to 12 feet tall !!

Sunflowers are easy to grow most anywhere, are delightful to watch, and are beautiful to see.

Our plan is to participate in Hunt For The Bees -- The Great Sunflower Project by counting bees once the sunflowers bloom, and then to submit our data online. You can still sign up if you would like to participate ! And when you sign up, they will send you a packet of free sunflower seeds for planting complete with instructions and a sheet of paper for data keeping.

Ultimately, we plan to save the sunflower heads in the fall, when the seeds are dry and the flower heads are ready for harvesting -- these seed heads will be given to the birds that we love to watch as they come to visit our bird feeders. We will simply hang the whole cut sunflower heads outside near our other bird feeders -- providing our bird friends with a delicious buffet during the chilly monthes, and our family with hours of birdwatching for Nature Journal time when it is too cold or too wet to head outside.

For plenty of how-to information on growing sunflowers, check out The Sunflower Guide.

(photo above borrowed from The Sunflower Guide site)

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