Then they started growing - like a weed! Actually, they grew taller, stronger, and more majestic than any weed around here. Their stiff stalks seemingly grew to the skies. Then blooms appeared.
Fun, cheerful blooms. They were happy. And they made me happy.
Then they began to age and grow old. Their faces began to drop. Their petals began to fall. Although they still put on a mighty show, it was apparent that they were declining rapidly.
And then the day came. It was time to harvest the sunflower seeds. How do you know when to harvest sunflowers? The back of their heads turn yellow.
You may even see some of the seeds underneath.
If you wait too long, you may lose some seeds.
The dried brown stuff, and the yellow/green pods on the heads can just be wiped away. (Not sure what to call this, so I'm using "brown stuff" as the technical term!)
Some people keep the heads on, and place paper bags on them to catch the falling seeds. Some people cut off their heads and hang them up to dry. Some just lay them out where air can circulate around them. The seeds are easily tickled out of the heads. Since I didn't have a good spot to hang them, I decided to lay mine out.
I ran across a vendor selling sunflower seed heads at the farmers market. Although I enjoy eating them raw, she shared this recipe with me for salted and roasted sunflower seeds:
1 cup Sunflower seeds
2 qts. water
1/2 cup salt
- Add water and salt in a pot or saucepan. Rinse sunflower seeds and remove any plant and flowerhead matter. (Notice she doesn't use the technical term "brown stuff", but the more sophisticated "flowerhead matter". I'll have to remember that.)
- Add sunflower seeds to the water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
- Simmer 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
- Drain on a paper towel until dry. Do not rinse.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Remove from oven when they are slightly brown.
She also said that, at least in Texas, if you plant now, you can harvest them in the fall. So, if you want to grow your own sunflower seeds, you just might want to give this a try! Remember, the smaller sunflowers are purely ornamental. If you want to harvest sunflower seeds, get the big boys.
The black seeds are from the sunflower 'American Giant', while the white seeds are from the sunflower 'Mammoth'. Both will be good to eat!
I'm joining The Gardening Blog for their Garden Bloggers Harvest Day.