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Friday, August 04, 2006


Oh, the sunflower. Such an interesting plant. Have you ever driven by a field full of them in the morning? They all face the east, watching the sun rise. Drive by during lunch, and they are all looking toward the heavens. Then drive by after work, and they are all watching the sun set.

I decided to first grow sunflowers to roast and eat their seeds. Our first year we grew several large, beautiful heads. storing them for replant was easy, preparing them for roasting was another matter.

One of my sunflowers in is glory

I read the book, really I did. But for some reason my brain did not process the information correctly. I filled a sealable plastic tub with water and salt. Placed the seeds into the water and sealed the tub. I allowed them to soak for two weeks, before opening the container and preparing them to be roasted in the oven.

Two weeks is too long. The book actually said one week. {Where is my impatience when I really need it?} So instead of the properly saturated seed, perfect for roasting and eating, I had about 30 lbs of seedlings and mold.

Starting to droop

Luckily for me, I still had a few whole heads that I had hung upside down in the barn to dry. I tried again, and this time I was successful.

Sunflowers are ready to harvest in mid-summer/early Autumn. Allow them to droop. The petals will fall off, and the green on the back of their heads will turn black. Cut the stalks low, and hang them upside down to dry for one to three weeks. Too long though and you are looking at stale tasting seeds.

Make sure there is little in the way of moisture when you are drying them, or you will end up with a soft, powdery gray mold on them. {not appealing} Once the heads are completely dry, you can rub the seeds right off the head.
petals have fallen

Sunflowers are one of the few plant sources of Vitamin D {just a little trivia to amaze your friends with}
If the seeds are still a little damp, set them out to dry longer. To store them correctly, they must be very very dry. Store them in their shell to retain the vitamins.

To roast them unshelled and salted. You will need 2 gal. water and 26 oz of salt. Stir and leave for one week {that's one week!} Stir them once in a while. Spread out on a tray and bake at 350f, mixing them every 10 minutes for at least one hour.

You can press them for oil {that's the plan this year} or make bread, cookies, top your salad with them.

I have been reading a new blog. If you have gardening questions, ask them at Gardening 1 on 1. Though I must warn you, it's not a completely pro-organic site. I still recommend it if you need help.


Anonymous said...

Love the new header image :o)

I've never tried to do my own sunflower seeds, only done punkin' seeds in the past. Mebbe this year I'll give it a shot!

Cheryl said...

Ooh, I've always wanted to make my own "spits" - I'll have to do it this year!
Have you ever tried sprouting sunflower seeds? They taste amazing in sandwiches and salads (nutty and crisp). Unlike other sprouts, you have to plant them in soil (in a pot on a window sill or wherever), then you just snip them when they're a few inches tall. Yummy!

Phelan said...

Bug, good luck if you do!

Cheryl, No I have never tried them before. Thank you for that info. Maybe this winter that will be something I do.

Anonymous said...

I always eat sunflower seads at baseball games, but I guess I never really thought about where they came from. I guess I'll try growing next year.

Phelan said...

Andrew, they are a wonderful crop. Plant them where you can't grow corn. They do well in clay.

Anonymous said...

I haven't planted sunflowers in a long time...but when I did I mainly shared the seeds with the birds. Now I know how to roast the seeds I might have to plant a few next year.

Niobium said...

I am such a failure when it comes to sunflowers. And they're my favorite!

The first year I couldn't figure out why none came up. The second year I realized why they didn't grow that first one: the chipmunks had eaten them.

The third year I sprouted them inside and planted them when they were a few inches long. They didn't grow. The fourth year (this year) I waited until they were taller and put them into the ground. Now they're about four feet high and still not doing anything. No flowers, just stalks.

I am very envious of your sunflowers.

Phelan said...

I am so sorry to hear that. Alrescate and Niobium, There is this product called shake away. It's natural, won't harm you, your plant or the animals/birds. It's made from Fox urine, so it scares everyone away.

Sunflowers need a long growing season and should be placed out as soon as the ground is workable {two weeks before the last frost} you can put them out sooner, and hope.

Mine grow well in clay. Try a richer soil and lots of water {but no standing water}

Hope your flowers do well next year.

Anonymous said...

What about selling some roasted seeds to your dear friends. Hint. Hint.


Pamela said...

Yeah, I know this is old but it is very interesting. We had sunflowers by accident!! Our bird feeder grew them from the dropped seeds but I don't know how you keep the birds away from your sunflowers?? I told my DH that I wanted sunflowers this coming year!! They are beautiful flowers and the seeds are delicious.

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