For the Love of Sunflowers

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The sight of blooming sunflowers, the crispiness of the air and the sweet smell of ocean breeze; yep, its summer once again! As a child this is the season of the year where I spent my days playing in an open field in my grandparent’s farm. I still remember how fascinated I was to see the endless plantation of sunflowers and get lost playing within it. Indeed, no flowers can ever represent summer better than sunflowers.

So after that summer I begged my mom to teach me how to grow sunflowers in our backyard. As a child I know that it’s going to be a big responsibility to start my own sunflower haven, but I just can’t leave my grandparent’s farm without taking piece of that place with me. This flower never fails to bring a smile to my face so when my mom said yes to me growing them that was the start of my summer experience with them. It was a summer filled with laughter and colors as my mom and I bonded closely during the lectures and caring of the sunflowers.

Beautiful yet resilient and tough, sunflowers are fairly easy to grow when you find the right place for them to thrive. The sunflower loves long and hot summers which describes me pretty well, and are attractive to bees and birds. Sunflowers and blue skies go hand in hand together. My mom and I chose to put my little piece of summer in the north side of the garden for full sun exposure. Sunflowers need lots of sun and space to create the scenic effect one sees when driving long distances and observing them in open fields.

Because they’re not very particular sunflowers flourish in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline soils (pH 6.0 to 7.5). We picked a location that shelters the seeds from strong winds, an area just along the fence so people can admire it. The seeds should be sown 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart after the threat of frost has past and the temperature is reaching 60 degrees. My mom made sure that we applied 3 to 4 inches of mulch layer to conserve moisture and to prevent the seeds from being taken by strong winds. To encourage deep rooting, I watered the seeds thoroughly but not frequently and just a light application of fertilizer.

If your sunflowers grow too tall be sure to support them. Bamboo stalks are a good option. Our backyard made a dramatic change from being empty to being sun-filled patch of sunflowers along the fence line standing straight.

I can’t end my story of sunflowers without sharing how I made sunflower seeds. Before rubbing the seeds off the flowers they must be dried. Once dried you rub the seeds off and soak them in salt water overnight. Take them out of the water the next day, dry them off and then bake them in the oven at 250 degrees for 4 hours. Eat and enjoy!

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