Archive for growing sunflowers with kids

Happiness Grows Where Seeds of Love are Sown

Posted in Seeds, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by PickMeYard

Grayson planted lots of sunflowers this year.  We just harvested the seeds out of one of the flower heads.  We dehydrated them and we’have them in a bowl on the counter for everybody to munch on.

Sunflower seeds from our garden for snacking

There are many varieties of sunflower (Helianthus annuus).  We thought we had a favorite but we’ve decided that we love them all.

Loring is trying to communicate with the sunflower by showing it a "baby yellow flower".

Did you know that the faces of most sunflowers turn to the sun and follow it during the course of the day from east to west?  At night they return toward the east direction.  It’s called heliotropismThere is a flexible segment of the stem that is just below the bud.  When the bud stage comes to an end, the stem stiffens and the flower blooms.  When they bloom they lose their heliotrophic activity and freeze in an eastward orientation.  Isn’t that amazing?

Sunflowers need full sun to grow and are easy to grow.  Some varieties grow to heights of 12 feet.  There is a report of one growing to 26 feet in Northern Italy.  After the Chernobyl radiation disaster, sunflowers were planted to extract uranium, cesium 137, and strontium from the soil.  They are also planted to remove lead and arsenic from soil.

Standing at attention, facing East

Sunflowers should not be planted in the same place each year as this helps to control problems with pests and diseases.

A sunflower growing a flower bud

The same sunflower as in the picture above

The sunflower is forming seeds in this picture. The petals have fallen off.

The sunflower seeds are now ready to be picked.

The sunflower seeds are mature and ready to be picked when the backs of the heads are yellow.  The sunflower head takes a long time to dry… patience.  They can spoil easily in warm weather.  The seeds will have black and white stripes and are easily picked out when they are ready to harvest.

The kids are picking the seeds.

Grayson is proud of his harvest.

We soaked our seeds in water and salt for a few hours and then dehydrated them in our dehydrator.  I left them in the dehydrator overnight at 105 degrees.  They are best stored in the refrigerator.  If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can place them in the oven on a cookie sheet and roast them for about 4 hours at 150 degrees.  I recommend getting a dehydrator if you don’t have one.  They are inexpensive at Wal-mart and Amazon.  They use a very minimal amount of electricity and you can make some of the yummiest food ever in them.  I have never used mine to make beef jerky, although many people do.

Do you have to soak the seeds first?  Nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors.  When they are soaked, it releases the toxic inhibitors and removes bitter flavors.  It is important to discard the water after soaking nuts or seeds and rinse them well. We have all eaten plenty of nuts and seeds that haven’t been soaked and that’s okay, but they are more digestible and taste better when they have been soaked and dehydrated.  If you were going to make a spread with the sunflower seeds, they could just be soaked (skip the dehydrating) and easily blended.

Sunflower seeds are high in potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.  They contain 24% protein, 20% carbohydrates, and 40% fat.  They also contain zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E.  The shells are also edible and high in fiber. 

There is even a National Sunflower Association and a magazine called” The Sunflower“.

Come grow with us!

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Our Family Garden: Part II

Posted in Flowers with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by PickMeYard

Flowers in Our Garden

I wanted to plant more than just vegetables this year so I dedicated an entire garden bed to flowers.  I am so glad I did because we are enjoying them immensely.  I know I will be picking flowers out of this bed for years, but I don’t mind.

Johnny Jump-Ups

The Johnny-jump-ups look like a small army of flowers standing at attention.  Grayson says they taste like lettuce.  Loring loves to pick them and we are fine with that because it keeps the new flowers coming.  Johnny-jump-ups are a cool season plant. They don’t survive a Florida summer.  However, they will re-seed themselves and jump-up again in the fall in our zone 9b.  I always use them as a garnish for the kids meals because it makes their meal more interesting.  Sometimes I float one or two in their drink.  They should only be consumed in moderation and eaten only when they are grown in your own garden without pesticides. 

Zinnias

The zinnias are wonderful for cutting and bringing inside.  They have added an amazing pop of color to our table.  Zinnias are a warm weather flower and are best grown from seed because they don’t transplant well.  They come in every color except blue and some varieties can grow up to 4 feet tall.  We are planning to save the seeds from our zinnias to continue growing them. 

She feels like a real princess with all these flowers to pick

I don’t think our garden will ever be without flowers again.  We have enjoyed them too much to be without them.

Marigolds

These marigolds are as big as my fist and smell like summer.  I’ve noticed that marigolds grow throughout the year in my garden. I’ve decided they should be a permanent fixture.  We’re just going to keep growing them everywhere.  There are many types of marigolds.   

 

The kids have been keeping a close eye on this sunflower.  They’ve been watching it transform into edible sunflower seeds.  Loring says the flower looks happy and keeps giving it kisses.  We’ve planted a whole lot more sunflowers because we want to see a lot more of them in our yard.  They seem to scream, “it’s summer!”  It is definitely a great plant to grow with kids.

We will never leave flowers off our “grow list” again.  It has been so rewarding to learn about the different varieties and watch them grow and bloom.  I think our food tastes better when we eat our meals around a vase of freshly picked flowers.

The Family Flower Picker

Come grow with us!