Sunflowers – redux

Sunflower harvest

Earlier this summer, I posted about our first year planting sunflowers.  They were glorious and grand and a lot of fun to watch turn into the sun as we worked in the garden.  Such beautiful plants couldn’t be left with just a single post.  I had to bring them back into the discussion as I am sure you have been curious how things turned out.

As it turns out, sunflowers grow very tall and get very heavy with the weight of seeds.  I didn’t really think things through when I planted them.  I watched them grow and was awed by their stature.  Of course, like Andre the Giant, sunflowers are in a different atmosphere with winds that we normal Earth-bound travelers don’t feel.  Sure enough, I lost a few to winds and gravity (which still works by the way).  As I am a quick study, I staked those that remained and we harvested 7-8 gigantic sunflower heads.  I had no idea when to harvest them of course and the first thing that occurred to me was that when the birds start devouring the crop, they must be ready.  Thankfully, I have access to the internets and was able to find that when the fronts turn brownish and the backs tun yellowish, they are ready.�
Sunflower harvest

Emily and I started de-seeding them this week and found out that sunflowers produce a very sticky sap.  I am still dragging my one cat to the office each day as he is glued to my left hand.  Anyhow,  we pulled the seeds from the face of the flowers and winnowed them in a screen sifter I built from 1/4 inch hardware cloth.  Most of the debris was removed by that process but we still put the seeds in the freezer to take care of any critters that couldn’t be persuaded to leave.  We plan to roast the seeds which I suppose would have killed anything still attached also, but it just seemed grosser that way.  Anyhow, after a 2-3 day freeze, we roasted them and will have several mason jars full of seeds!

6 thoughts on “Sunflowers – redux

  1. I love the sunflowers, but have never harvested the seeds before. Ha! Leave it to the birds to tell you when the seeds are ready! Im sure they a true experts on that subject.

  2. “I am still dragging my one cat to the office each day as he is glued to my left hand. ”


    I grew a few sunflowers this year but I never harvested any of the seeds…maybe I should try next year. Yours are HUGE though!

  3. Holy cow! Those are some giant sunflowers!!!!
    I did save some seeds for next year but I know I will have sunflowers growing like crazy in the garden, thanks to the birds.

    You are right about the sap!

  4. I have sunflowers in my flower beds every year – but have never harvested the seedsd. I let them re-seed themselves year after year. Maybe next year I’ll have to remember this and try it!

  5. These things were huge and really cool. It’s odd but sunflowers to eat are fairly inexpensive but sunflowers to feed birds are very expensive. I originally figured I’d try sunflowers just to see if they were hard to grow or something. Of course, they are not. I think the food market for them is smaller than the feed market I guess. I doubt I’ll feed any of mine this year to the birds but maybe next year I’ll plant more for them!

    I don’t mind the extra protein much and I doubt my son would but Emily and Abigail were not impressed when they saw a bug or two!

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