Sunflowers are a beautiful addition to any farm or garden. They are not fussy about soil, but should be planted in an area of full sunlight on the north side of the garden. This way, they will not block light to the rest of your plants when they begin to get large.
In most areas, it is best to wait until after the last frost to plant your seedings. Seedlings are cold resistant, but often grow better when the soil is warmer. Plant your seeds about 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart. Water immediately after planting the seeds.
When your plants begin to grow, large sunflowers should be thinned about 1 1/2 inches apart and smaller plants can be thinned 1 inch apart. Apply a layer of mulch to your flowers, about 3-4 inches deep, to keep the moisture in and weeds out. Water regularly from the time you plant your seeds.
Sunflowers are notoriously trouble free, however, you should rotate crops if you sense the soil fungus, leaf mottle, has invaded your crop. Protect your plants from other insects and birds with a mesh bag, cheesecloth or perforated plastic bags.
Harvest your flowers when the seeds start to turn brown or you notice that the heads of the seeds begin to turn yellow. Cut the heads with 2 inches of stem remaining, and hang upside down until they are fully dry. Heads should be kept in an area with proper ventilation and limited moisture. When the heads are dry you can retrieve seeds to be used as bird feed, or eaten as a healthy snack! If you're going to eat them you should soak in water for 12 hours and cook at 200°F for about 3 hours. Salt and enjoy!
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