Getting Ready for Spring with Sunflowers
Posted by Purple Sweetpea, Claire Keen on 7th Mar 2017
Both my sons love sunflowers, they are big bright and cheerful. My youngest Sam, when he was around 17 months, cried when we cut down our first ever sunflowers at the end of the season. Since then I have left them for as long as possible for the boys to enjoy and for the birds to feast on the bountiful seeds in their enormous flowers.
Sunflowers are easy to sow; nurture and they are great fun for kids too. They grow pretty fast and have a spectacular result, especially once they have opened their beautiful golden yellow heads.
Last year’s sunflowers were planted in a row at our allotment opposite the shed next to our wildlife area. They were admired all summer long as we sat and ate our picnics.
As Sunflowers are a magnet for butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects, it was a great opportunity to teach the boys about the role these insects play in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. If you grow enough sunflowers they can also be enjoyed as a fantastic crop too. They can be eaten as a healthy snack or even baked in to bread.
This year I plan to make our most spectacular display of sunflowers yet.
The boys have sowed two varieties of sunflower. The first is called Giant Single which I hope will grow really tall, well above the boy’s heads. The other variety is called Little Leo, these are dwarf sunflowers and I plan to plant them in front of the giant singles creating a two tiered display (see picture below).
We’ve sown our sunflower seeds in pots in the greenhouse, so the boys can keep a close eye on them until they are big enough to plant out at the allotment. Sunflowers can be sown inside from March – May and outside in May. The boys with a little help from myself have sowed 2/3 seeds per a pot and have covered them with around half an inch of soil.
We’re never exact with these things after all I am growing with children. I think they take great joy in feeling of the compost between their fingers and shovelling it from my potting bench in to the plant pots. They love the responsibility of counting out the seeds and placing them on to the soft compost before finishing with a final layer and levelling it off with their spades. I think these precious seeds will certainly be well attended to by the boys throughout the growing season.