Growing sunflowers and reaping the benefits.
I grew my first sunflower when i was just seven years old. At such a young age, it blew my mind that something could grow so tall in such a short space of time and i was amazed at how beautiful the flower was. I was very proud of my achievement but was devastated when my older sister got a pet rabbit and it ate the bottom and it just toppled over dead. Little did i know back then that sunflowers are an annual plant and that its fate was to die anyway, but the rewards from this magnificent "dying" flower are enormous.
Health benefits of eating sunflower seeds.
Snacking on sunflower seeds is a good way to stem your hunger throughout the day.
- They can help to lower cholesterol.
- Sunflower seeds are a high source of vitamin E, vitamin B1, copper and magnesium.
- They can help improve your body's cardiovascular system.
- They are a good source of protein.
Sunflower seeds are a tasty and nutritious snack that a lot of people enjoy worldwide, but instead of buying them at your local store, why not grow them yourself? You can get upwards of 1,000 seeds from one flower head. Like every other plant, there are many different varieties of sunflowers and they all do the same thing but if you are looking to get a lot of seeds from the one plant then choose the biggest, heavy cropping variety. With so many different types it is fun to shop around and experiment with all the different ones. The seeds can be enjoyed in many different ways, either as a snack by themselves or as a compliment to salads or a stir fry. They can also be added to different breads and pastries when baking or ground up and added to cakes. The choices are endless and many recipes can be found easily online.
Growing sunflowers couldn't be easier.
Sunflowers will grow anywhere and are a very hardy plant. Growing them is as easy as just putting a seed in the ground and letting nature do the work for you, but with a little TLC you will really bring out the best that the plant has to offer. Here are just a few simple tips to keep you on the right track.
- Sunflowers grow best in full sunlight and need plenty of water on those very sunny days.
- They need support as they grow so it is a good idea to have a bamboo cane or something similar to tie the plant to as it grows. This will stop the wind from blowing it over and damaging the plant.
- Slugs and snails will try to eat your sunflower so my advice would be to create a little perimeter of crushed egg shells to keep them at bay, as opposed to using chemicals
- When any of the lower leaves on the stem start to whither or turn yellow simply just cut them away and add them to the compost pile.
To insure that your plant gets a good head start it is a good idea to plant them in small containers indoors and allow them to reach a height of around 8" or so then you can just pick a spot in your already established garden for the sunflower to tower above the rest. You can also grow them in pots individually or in pairs, however this method needs good support as the wind could easily blow the sunflower over with the pot.
Get your seeds for next year!
As the sunflower gets older and the pedals start to disappear one by one you will start to notice that it's head begins to tilt forward and the once happy face looks more and more melancholy by the day. This is the natural process that would throw a lot of people off the idea of growing sunflowers as it becomes unsightly however, it is in this "death" that the flower gives up its bountiful treasure and its opportunity to be born again.
Getting your seeds.
The key to getting good seeds is knowing when to cut off the head of the sunflower. When you can start to see the seeds emerge from the head and they have a little bit of white then you're ready to go. There are so many different ways to do this and it is hard to go wrong. I like to keep mine plain and simple. Once you have gathered up as many as you want and gave them a little rinse with water simply place them on a baking tray, sprinkle some salt over them and pop them in the oven. It depends on the size of your seeds how long they go in the oven for but you have to judge it yourself. Once the seeds are cracking well then they are ready to eat.
I think this video sums up roasting them quite well. Enjoy.