Planning ahead: when to harvest sunflowers

This post is to follow up on a comment from My Home Farm about sunflowers. They’re doing some awesome things on their property and Victorian era house, so do head over to visit their website and YouTube channel!

On learning we were planting sunflowers, my mother had made a big deal about how the birds were going to eat them all. She had planted sunflowers in the garden in the past, and told me they never had a chance to get any, because of the birds.

Well, I know that isn’t quite true, since I remember as a kid, pulling sunflowers out of a head and eating them, inside the house. So we obviously managed to harvest at least one seed head! 😀

The sunflowers we have planted are intended to be used as bird feed over the winter, though we will certainly eat some of them ourselves. To do that, however, we need to be able to harvest and preserve the seed heads before the birds eat them off the plants!

In looking up how to do that a while back, I found this video.

After watching this, I am thinking that my parents may have left the seed heads out for too long, before trying to harvest them.

Any seed heads we harvest will be hung up in our basement to dry.

Right now, our giant varieties of sunflowers are still developing their seed heads. We haven’t had issues with squirrels or mice, but the deer do seem to enjoy them! Of the original planting of 2 varieties of giant sunflowers, we had about a 50% loss. Some simply didn’t germinate, but most were lost to deer. A third variety of giant sunflowers were planted to fill in the gaps, and almost all of them came up, with a few later lost to deer. It should be interesting to see if they will have enough of a growing season left to produce seed heads we’ll be able to harvest, too. We do intend to plant sunflowers again next year, including trying some other, unusual, varieties. We intend to plant more of each, with the expectation of losses, but will also try to fence things off to keep the deer away, too.

But first, we’ll see what we will be able to harvest, this year!

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “Planning ahead: when to harvest sunflowers

  1. I have to chuckle about the deer eating everything because this is our experience too. They eat everything!!! My husband and I were listening to a radio program where they were interviewing the owner of an apple orchard in our state. When they asked him what they do to keep deer away he said “There are only two things that will stop deer. The first is lead.” (meaning a bullet) My husband and I laughed but we are not hunters. “The second is fence.” we just shook our head in agreement. We have spent lots of time and money on fence but it’s worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I was a kid, we never had a problem with deer – I think there was just too much activity with 7 people and multiple dogs for them to tolerate! Now, we actually provide food for them in the winter, and they come right up to the house. So we’ve sort of created our own problem! We don’t want to get rid of them, but do need to protect our gardens, so fences it will have to be!

      Liked by 2 people

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