In these trying times, we need to appreciate nature and gardens. Being in my garden helps ground me, always has, but this year in particular I need to feel the earth under my feet. It is one of the few things that keeps me sane right now.
Last fall I went bonkers ordering so many tulips online and I thought what have I done? So much work planting them all (65 in all I believe). Well, now they are blooming and I am so loving their beauty plus they will come back every year.
To keep my cat from digging in the dirt around the tulips, Elodie suggested I put rocks around them. Works like a charm. No more tramping on them, digging around them and breaking them.
Not all gardening is food for the belly. Some of it is food for our souls. Something we all need right now.
Last year I had an edible flower class out here on the mini-farm. The garden looked so beautiful. I normally grow flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial bugs but had the bonus of edible flowers as well. I liked mixing them within some of the crops. Nice to remember how beautiful it was considering the garden is sleeping now. Here are some photos from it.
I recently did a post on sunflowers with some great pictures. I grow sunflowers for attracting beneficial insects, feeding birds and because they are beautiful. But there is something else you can do with them—you can roast the seeds from the heads after the flowers fade and EAT THEM! The biggest sunflowers like Titan, Kong, Giant Gray Stripe and Mammoth which produce big seeds are best. Cut the heads off when the plants are starting to fade and the sunflowers plant yellows. Then let the heads finish drying till they are brown and dry but move them inside as the birds will start to eat the seeds if they find the heads. The smallest flower heads I leave out around the garden for the birds to get the seeds.
After the big flower heads are dried, rub off the front of the flower head to reveal the tightly packed sunflower seeds. Using your thumb, start to rub from the edges and the seeds will release and continue till you get most of them. I do this outside as it is a bit messy with dried parts everywhere. I just sit at my outside patio table to do this. Clean out the dried flower parts from all your seeds before the next step.
Now you’re ready to salt and roast your seeds. The following recipe is provided by the National Sunflower Association—sunflowernsa.com:
Cover unshelled sunflower seeds with salted water, using 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt per 2 quarts of water. Soak seeds in the salt solution overnight. The next morning, drain off the water and pat the seeds dry to remove excess moisture. (You can also roast the seeds unsalted — simply skip the soaking process.)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the sunflower seeds evenly on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. The seeds often develop a small crack down the center as they roast. Taste after each stirring to see if the seeds are completely roasted. After roasting, remove seeds from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Store the seeds in an airtight container for future snacking. YUM!!
I love sunflowers. Every year I plant many varieties because they are so beautiful in the garden. An added bonus is that many bees both native and honeybees love them too. Being a beekeeper I want to help my bees by planting bee friendly plants. Bees like both nectar and pollen from sunflowers so they are a great flower to plant for honeybees and native bees. Individual sunflowers rarely self-pollinate but depend on the bee to help them. In fact bees are the major pollinators of sunflowers. The bees get covered in pollen when they visit a sunflower and then visit other sunflowers pollinating them. Here are some pictures from the garden of my sunflowers. They are particularly beautiful in the fall.
I love my zinnias in my vegetable garden. They are so beautiful and I love the new streaked varieties. They are a double zinnia and are so interesting to look at and the pollinators like them. I know if I was a bee, I would visit them!
They are also an edible flower-check out this article on eating them and recipes at: arcadiafarms.net
Close up of Peredovik sunflower heads-after the flower petals fall exposing the seeds
Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower in bloom
Today I planted my Peredovik Black Oil Sunflower Seed from Russia. They are the black oil sunflower seeds that the birds love to eat and this is the variety that is in your bird seed mix that you buy in the store. They are particularly good because they are high in natural fat giving the birds energy. This makes them the best choice of sunflower for feeding birds although the birds love all varieties of sunflower seeds.
I got mine for 2016 fromSouthern Seed Exchange and can’t wait for them to come up. Just plant like any other sunflower seed mixed in your garden with other flowers. They have multiple heads on each stalk. They won’t be as tall as some of the giant sunflowers usually reaching 4-5 feet tall but it’s nice to know I’m helping the birds. After they flower, I leave the heads on and it’s fun to watch the birds eat them right off the plant in the fall. I leave them well into winter where the wild birds will continue to get the seeds out of the heads.