Want to add some bright color to your spring and summer gardens this year? Have you thought about what the addition of sunflowers could do for your garden? By planting even just a few brightly colored sunflowers you'll lure plenty of bees into your vegetable garden to help with pollination.
You'll want to start your sunflowers indoors about 4 weeks prior to the last frost. Sow them 2-3" beneath the surface of the soil. Keep your seeds well watered while you wait for them to germinate. Transplant outdoors once the threat of frost has passed. This will ensure the largest possible yield of seeds at harvesting time.
Sunflowers can grow to heights of 8 feet or more and provide you with a large quantity of delicious seeds. Choose an area that gets plenty of sun, a minimum of 6-8 hours will be needed. Amend the soil with rich compost and organic fertilizers. Keep your sunflowers away from your pole beans and try to place them near things like cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. These seem to be good companion plants for sunflowers.
Harvest the seed heads in late summer or early fall once the back of the flower head has began to die and turn yellow. This means that the seeds are ready. Simply collect the seed heads and dry them in a well-aerated, dry location. You can also eat the greens of the sunflower! We bet you didn't know that. They actually provide large amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They have been said to improve arterial health and reduce high blood pressure when consumed regularly. They are low in calories and boost your reproductive health as well.
Don't have room in the garden but you're still interested in growing sunflowers for their nutritional value? Try growing sunflower sprouts, which are full of chlorophyll. They keep your blood healthy, calm the nervous system, revitalize tissues, balance pH and reduce inflammation.