Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sunflower seeds

I know today was suppose to be about how to finish drying your herbs. I finished them, I swear, I just well, haven't had time to write it up or make it look prettier since school started yesterday for Pooka, and today for Kiddo. Life kinda sorta gets in the way of blogging sometimes.

Instead, I thought you would like to see how we harvested some sunflower seeds from Pooka and Kiddo's sunflowers. We have been planting sunflowers on our south side in this tiny planting bed for a few years now. It is super narrow, and has alot of the stuff in it (see here the gas meter) so unless you have a reason, you don't go there often. In fact, we almost never use our side yards, and the first year we planted the sunflowers, we saw what a difference it made to the number of weeds in that bed (as opposed to putting NOTHING in it).

Mammoth on the Left, Multi head on the right
Now, we originally planted mammoth sunflowers, but for whatever reason, they didn't seem to grow real well. However, we had some volunteer sunflowers from last year which were smaller multi headed but they actually grew taller. They grew quite well. I went out Saturday night on the side of the house for well something (I couldn't tell you what at this point) and noticed the seeds were drying and ready to come loose. I figured with as many goldfinches that are coming around anymore, we better get some now. A quick google search told me what I think I needed to know. 

Now first you will want to check that your seeds have little black lines on them. That plus the drying of the head you see here means your sunflower seeds are ready to harvest.  Make sure the petals have all fallen off and the seeds are fairly large and plump. From what I read, that means they will be better seeds overall. 

To do this, you have to take a paper bag and hold it over the flower head. Then you cut the head off with up to about a foot of stem attached. In our case, this wasn't always possible since some of the multi heads were attached 6 inches apart. Once the flower is free, we left it in the paper bag till we were ready for the next part.

 Next comes the destruction, I mean seed removal. I won't lie, this part is a bit gross. Bugs and things will fall out of the flower. It is nature and it happens. That being said you are suppose to rub the sunflower to have the seeds "pop" out. Well our seeds didn't want to pop. Instead they wanted to be forcibly removed. We did end up breaking some of the heads, but in the end, I dont think it mattered much. It just meant there was a bit more clean up to do.

 Here our the seeds when we were done. We washed them off in just regular water to separate out some of the gunk and the seeds. Now if anyone has a better way then picking through each one, please let me know.

Being that this our first time harvesting seeds, I am curious what kind of response we will get. We saved about a fifth to replant next year (and Pooka is talking about putting some in her goodie bags for her next birthday party), and the rest we roasted. But that is another post. We are contemplating planting one to see if they will even plant. I just haven't had the time to set that up. Maybe this weekend.

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