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By Lynn Kirkland

Autumn Harvest

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Herb of the Week by Lynn Kirkland for 13th April

Autumn Harvest

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 straight away.
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.


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