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Herb of the Week for 20th Oct 2006
Summer Sunflowers

Herb of the Week for 20th October

By Lynn Kirkland

Summer Sunflowers

Summer Sunflowers by Lynn Kirkland
For 20th October

Now is the time to think ahead to clear blue skies, warm temperatures and the buzzing of bees.
If you would like the bees to buzz around your sunflowers then now is the time to start the first plantings.
Seeds can be sown from this month and over the next few months. I have successfully grown these heartwarming sunny flowers right through until even June one year.

The key is to plant a few of seeds each month. Mark your calendar with a little sun icon to remind you of this garden task.
We save our own seed which always germinates readily. If you buy the hybrid sunflower seeds that have been bred to be pollen free then these will be sterile and it will be no point saving these seeds.

Sunflowers are regarded as herbs because they have several uses to people.
Naturally they have great value as an ornamental herb in the garden.
Sunflowers can be single headed, multiheaded, tall; dwarf and the flowers can range in colours from sunshine yellow to bronze.
Colour combinations with your plantings can be fun too.
Try planting them in with red roses or pink echinacea for a bright and happy colour combo. Sunflowers do not have to be planted along a fence line, but can be of course.

Sunflowers have economic value as they are grown commercially around the world for seed production and for oil.
The leaves make good stock food and for the lifestyle farmer with a few chickens try giving the leaves to your poultry.
Rabbits enjoy the foliage as well.

The stems have been used for fibre and if you let them try they become as hard as wood and are excellent on the fire.

Medicinally the action of the seeds is diuretic and expectorant and in Mrs Grieve’s much respected herbal “A Modern Herbal”, published in 1931 she has the following recipe for bronchial, laryngeal and pulmonary affections, coughs and colds and whooping cough.

“Boil 2ozs of sunflower seeds in 1qt of water down to 12 ozs.
Add 6ozs of good Holland Gin and 6ozs of sugar.
Give in doses of 1-2 tsps three or four times a day.”

This is shown for historical interest and not as a prescription for those with coughs!

So think of summer coming and how joyful a garden can be with sunflowers in it and think about succession planting so you can have the joy of them over many months.

The Herb Farm
Grove Road, RD10
New Zealand


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