Herb of the Week by Lynn Kirkland for
Last weekend I pulled out the last of
my sunflowers which have given me such
pleasure over the last few weeks. The
hard stems are excellent at the bottom
of a new compost heap.
Bees and bumble bees have loved visiting
these bright flowers all summer and they
will have done their work of pollination
making the saving of seed worthwhile.
Every year I always keep seed to plant
the following spring and have developed
a fail safe method of doing so.
First step is to cut the heads of a variety
of sunflowers blooms which you can see
have formed seed.
Place these in a dry warm spot for a few
days to allow the back of the seed head
to dry a little which will make it easier
to get the seed out.
You will notice that seeds can be grey,
white, brown or black and I try to get
a good mix to ensure different types of
sunflowers for next season.
Be careful not to leave your drying flower
heads anywhere that mice live as they
will be very grateful for the tasty snack
you have thoughtfully supplied them with.
Next step is to put on a garden glove
and rub the seeds loose. If you use bare
hands your fingers will be black at the
end of this exercise.
Leave the seeds to dry completely in a
shallow container and then store in paper
bags or a sealed container. Again foil
the mice by storing out of their reach.
Most other annual herbs self sow and it
is nature’s way to drop seeds around the
mother plant or send them airborne over
the garden where they settle onto the
soil and at the right trigger from nature
germinate to start a new life cycle.
Some seeds lie dormant for months while
others like the calendulas, germinate
Sunflowers do not self sow so this is
why it is the time to harvest and store
your seeds if you want an abundance of
sunny flowers next summer.