Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Giant Sunflowers

Last winter, I read that sunflowers are a good source of nectar for bees. It seemed like a good idea in terms of nurturing my new bee hives, so I bought a package of sunflower seeds to plant.

I don't know what possessed me to choose the largest sunflower available. This variety is called "Mongolian Giant" and is purported to grow very large seeds up to 1 1/2 inches long, with flower heads 6-18 inches across, and reaching 12-14 feet tall.

They weren't kidding! These sunflowers have grown taller than my walk-in chicken coop, and much taller than my new apricot trees. They tower over the garden dramatically, their sparse leaves barely creating any shadows, large heads reaching to the sky. In the last few days, the heads have started to droop. We'll leave the flower heads on the stalks as long as we can, then clip them and lay flat for the final drying. I've never harvested sunflower seeds before and will report back later.

I haven't noticed any of my honeybees on the sunflowers but the big fuzzy bumble bees adore them. It was a small investment to help the bees, and I'll wait until the end of the season before I decide if I'll grow them again next year.

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