I like to tell people I live for inspiration. Usually this belief center’s around learning new things that make me look at the world with a better understanding. The inspiration for this post came from my love for van Gogh paintings. Vincent was fascinated with sunflowers and so I decided to grow some myself to see how lovely they could be. When I went to go buy the seeds, I picked giant sunflower seeds because I would also be able to harvest the seeds as well. As a baseball fan I like to eat them whenever I go to a game or watch one on TV. My favourite flavour is dill pickle flavoured seeds.
I planted the seeds near the edge of my driveway just in case the plant grew too big or attracted wild annoying animals (racoons). I also planted them in late spring. They require very little energy to grow so you don’t need to water them as much as other vegetables. Mine grew to about 8 feet by late August and the flower bloom lasted only about a week. During that week, everyone who walked by would stare and comment how they loved the flower. I must say the bloom is impressive and I could finally understand van Gogh’s reason for painting it so often.
The advantage of growing my plant near my driveway was that I could use a light pole for support by simply tying the plant’s stem up against the pole. Once the bloom started to fade, the head started to sag and I then used more wire to support the head until eventually the head was the only thing sagging. This isn’t a big deal because the seeds inside of the head still continue to grow. By mid-September I could finally start seeing the seeds growing, with their slight black stripes. It wasn’t until the middle of October that I was finally able to chop off the sunflower head and be able to harvest the seeds. By this time, the seeds looked plump and the back of the sunflower head was black and brown.
I read online and looked at videos on how to best harvest my seeds, and somehow came up with a version I was comfortable with. I chopped off the head, removed the seeds and placed them in a bucket full of water for about a day, then I dried them on paper towels, I baked them in the oven for a half-hour, and when they were baked I added a little olive oil and salt. The seeds tasted really good, and I must have gotten well over 10 bags full of seeds. While the experience was informative, I think the next time I want to eat sunflower seeds I’ll stick to the dill pickle bag I buy from the store.