Tuesday, August 10, 2010

so many uses for sunflowers

sunflowers are here and they make everything look happier. one of the many great things they are good for. they also provide many sunflower seeds in one head, which is good for harvesting and eating, or for forgetting to harvest and watching the birds enjoy. and you can save the seeds to plant again next year, like on the international sunflower guerrilla gardening day! (may 1)

last year i grew 6 "grey mammoth" sunflowers and harvested 6 cups of sunflower seeds (and they really are mammoth-- about 10ft or more). i had plenty of seeds to plant in the garden, give to friends and family, and also to eat.

sunflower starting to bloom

to harvest sunflower seeds:
- wait till the flower pedals start to fall off the plant while its still in the ground
- then cut off the head of the sunflower, leaving yourself about 6-12" from the end of the head
- hang the head upside down by the stalk and let it dry out for 2 weeks
- after its dry, brush of the little flower bristles (not really sure what to call them) and you'll see all the seeds underneath
- then gently pull out the seeds by brushing your finger along the sides to push them out.
make sense kind of? see pictures below.

sunflower heads after being dried out for 2 weeks

the sunflower "bristles" that need to be brushed off to get to the seeds

lots and lots of sunflower seeds packed into one head

my mum's garden in NY from the sunflowers point of view

but there's also another great thing about sunflowers, and that's the stalks. they are very big and strong and they dry really well. last year i saved my sunflower stalks, dried them, and then used them as my snow pea trellis/tripod this year.

3 dried sunflower stalks with string wrapped around them to make a trellis

if the sunflowers were also the type that produce sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, then you could eat the roots like a tuber or make flour. if you've ever seen pasta made with Jerusalem Artichokes, that's what it is, sunflower roots. i think i'll try that for next year, but for this year i have a ton of great seeds to work with. maybe i'll try to make sunflower oil?

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