Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sunny Sunflower Days

This year we grew sunflowers for the first time. We planted them along the back garden with the hope that they would peek over the top of the fence and greet our back door neighbors. It was also an opportunity for us to identify which areas along the back fence received the most and least sunlight. This knowledge will come in handy when we prepare to plant a different variety of vegetable in that area next year.
We allowed the sunflowers to ripen on the stalk and after the seeds were full grown, we cut the sunflower heads and strung them under the back porch to dry.  Once dry, we deseeded the sunflower heads and soaked the seeds in hot, salty water for about eight hours. We then spread the seeds in a thin layer on a baking sheet and baked them at 300 for about 30 minutes, stirring the seeds occasionally.
Overall, the sunflowers were a success. We identified that the corners of the property received very little light and that next time we grow sunflowers we may need to stake them (in our case, we grew cucumbers with the sunflowers and some of the cucumber vines grew up the sunflower stalks making them heavy. Additionally the sunflower heads themselves were quite heavy when mature). We also learned that deshelling (is that a word?) hundreds of sunflower seeds can be quite tedious! And (at least for us) putting the shells in water so that the shells would float and the inner seed would sink did not work well, but instead created quite a mess. That said, this was a tasty experiment. We have enjoyed the seeds on salad and in muffins

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