How we grow our sunflowers...
Like all things at the Country Pumpkins patch, we set aside plenty of time to plan out what the next season will look like! Sunflowers were first introduced in 2021 and proved to be a popular attraction, so in 2022 we went even bigger with our Sunflowers!
The varieties you will normally find at the patch are:
Giants - The tall variety!
Dwarves - Small, colorful sunflowers
ES Bella - Known for their black heart seeds (which are great for oil! and wild birds!)
We also grow a mixture of pollen and pollen-free sunflowers. For PYO, people usually prefer not to have pollen types, hence the pollen free varieties we grow each year. These varieties of Sunflower are:
and Super Ted.
Although the bees will still benefit from the nectar of these varieties, they are missing out on the pollen – and that’s where the Giants come in… they’re not just a ‘pretty face’ – the pollen sunflowers will be of greater benefit to pollinating insects and the wildlife in general.
Our sunflower "Bee Trail" has more great info on bees and pollination, so why not check it out?
Once we've decided on where these wonderful flowers are going, work can begin on preparing the ground. The exact time being dependent on the weather and specifically ensuring that the ground isn’t too wet.
Typically we add Farmyard manure from a local farm to the patch in February or March, and shortly thereafter plow the soil to incorporate all the goodness of the manure. The ground is then left until the conditions are just right for planting, usually in early May. With the ground prepared by "Power Harrow", the drill/planter follows behind and places each seed at a set distance from one another - allowing for plenty of room for these strong growing flowers to thrive.
Img.2 A Tractor & Power Harrow at the patch (2023)
Sunflowers will usually sprout out of the ground within a couple of weeks. They require very little in additional nutrients, and quickly develop deep, strong roots, which propel them upwards as they reach the manure buried below.
Img 3. Sunflowers erupting across the patch (2022)
They take approximately 90 days to reach their lofty heights - which is incredible when you think about how tall they are! The heads will start to open in Late July, but this is variable as it depends on the growing seasons weather. During 2022's long hot spell, some were opening as early as mid-July!
Img 4. A New Sunflower Head
From the end of July, through to mid-August our Early Sunflowers will be fully open! Much to the excitement of the local bee population, who love the Pollen!
Img 5. Bee's busy at work!
By mid-September the Sunflowers will start to hang their heads, due to the weight of the Sunflower seeds they've produced through the season.
We collect a number of heads for their seed, but the majority that remain will be left for the wild birds to collect, making a tasty snack for the coming winter months. Usually by Late November the remaining stalks will be flailed/mowed to ground level, allowing for the organic matter to be returned to the soil more easily in the coming season.
If you have any questions about Sunflowers or what you can do with them, be sure to ask one of the friendly team on hand at the patch, or send us message. :-)
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