Sunflowers are the loveliest, brightest, and sunniest of all the late summer bloomers.
Beacons of happiness and indicators of harvest. Their time signifies yet another garden season well done ... and cooler temperatures and back-to-school time fast approaching.
This year I grew only one variety, a new one from Renee's Garden Seeds, called 'The Birds & The Bees'. This selection being a no-brainer for me, as an organic kitchen gardener who plants to entice both the birds, and the bees, to my happy, healthy yard and garden!
The bees part comes into play while the flowers are blooming, still open, full of pollen and makes for super happy bees all summer long!
The birds part is just about to start, comes into play real soon, as we harvest these babies for birdseed!
So... What to do with the sunflowers when they look like this?
Here is how to go about saving them for the birds ....
How do you know when to pick them? When to harvest for all those lovely hidden gems?
First off, the pretty yellow petals will all have dried up, and maybe even fallen off, leaving you with what you see above... a sad and very bedraggled looking stalk of spent flowers.
Backs of the flower heads are yellow, no longer green.
Second, the backs of the sunflower heads will be yellow or brown-ish, no longer green.
Seeds have turned black!
Third, when you brush across the front of the flower, the seeds underneath will be black, not white.
Pick your sunflower heads. Leave on a bit of the stem, 6 inches or more, so that you have something to hang or tie them from later on!
Lay them out to cure in a well ventilated, dry, warm area till fall.
This time of year, at harvest time, the birds still have plenty to eat in our yards and gardens, but give it a month or two, in late fall and winter, and they will really appreciate these gorgeous, seedy flower heads.
Hang them from a fence post or nail them to a tree, string them on a wire ... these flowers really are for the birds!