They Grew Sunflowers Up Against the Coop to Help Provide Shade in the Summer

Sunflowers are bright and cheery flowers. You can't help but feel a little happier once you see one, especially one of the larger varieties. It is thought that the sunflowers may have been domesticated before corn, as early as 3000 BC in the area that is now known as Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona and in the Mississippi Valley by around 2300 BC. The sunflower is certainly native to northern Central America and grew tall and bushy, with many flowers on each plant. Evidence suggests that the seeds of the sunflower were used to grind into flour for bread or made into a meal that was then mixed with squash, beans or corn. Various tribes used the sunflower to create dyes, and for their oil, that was applied to the skin and hair. Sunflower stalks were even used as a building material. Sunflowers were also used as beanpoles like corn was in the Three Sisters method of starting a garden.

The original sunflower was a tall flower but had smaller flowers that had relatively small seeds, which were ground like a grain crop. Spanish explorers returned to Europe with seeds in the late 16th century, and the sunflower’s cultivation as a decorative annual spread quickly. English authorities issued a patent for extracting oil from the sunflower seeds in 1716, and by the late 18th century, sunflowers were being grown almost solely for this purpose. Peter the Great was an advocate of sunflower oil and encouraged its spread east into Russia. And the commercial processing of sunflower oil emerged around 1830.

Sunflowers earned their name because of the curious process is known as heliotropism. During the budding stage of a sunflowers growth, the heads of nearly all sunflowers will face east at dawn, and then follow the sun throughout the day, facing west at dusk. One other remarkable ability of the sunflower plant is its use in extracting toxic ingredients from the soil. Not only can the plants draw up lead and arsenic out of the soil, but they were used after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl to help draw up the radioactive chemicals uranium, cesium, and strontium. Near the end of July, the town of Altona, in Manitoba, Canada celebrates the Manitoba Sunflower Festival, a yearly event that has been running for nearly 50 years. Some of the events include live music, a quilt show, Mennonite food and crafts, a quilt show, petting zoo, farm markets, and the crowning of Manitoba’s Sunflower Queen.

As far as DIY ideas for starting a garden with sunflowers, they are quite easy to grown. For container growing, you want to choose small varieties of sunflowers. The larger sunflowers plants have deep roots to anchor them in place, and they need to be grown directly in a garden bed. When growing as a DIY idea with flowers that start with a see, you will need to make sure they are warm to germinate from mid-April to mid-May. Sunflower seeds can be direct sown as late as June but will produce flowers that are much later in the season. Transplanted sunflowers will need to be staked, as their roots will be restricted by pots they grow in. When starting a garden of sunflowers you want to sow them about 1/2 inch deep and sow about twice as many seeds as you need. Thin these to about12 inches apart for small to medium sized plants, and about twenty-four inches for the tall varieties. You will find the book From Seed to Sunflower on the Amazon site. On the site y ou will find other books about starting a garden, flowers that start with a see, DIY ideas and so much more. **


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