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sunflower Helianthus annuus

Sunflower has been planted 32 times by Growstuff members.


sunflower is an annual crop (living and reproducing in a single year or less)

Median lifespan

98 days

First harvest expected

77 days after planting


sunflower plantings

Red Sunflower
Snap of the day: flaming sunflower

sunflower harvests


sunflower seeds


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What people are saying about sunflowers

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Coming together

This weekend I had two full days to really focus on the yard, and I made the most of it. With the intermittent help of several others over the course of the weekend, I got both easement planter boxes filled with compost and soil, cleaned up and weeded the alley, got the stump pulled from the conifer thing we took out last year, finished leveling the railroad ties for the terraced area of the yard, and got most of the front yard backfilled.

Tina's grabbing another load of compost on Tuesday, so we should be able to get the third planter bed in the alley filled before the last frost date. I still have to clean up and mow the backyard, get and spread wood chips, and figure out what we're planting in the front yard, but it's really starting to come together. It's hard to believe that this time last year, I didn't feel like I had a clue what I was doing growing plants, and our yard was ugly as all get out. Now we have a retaining wall and terrace and three planter boxes we built ourselves. I'm making a big effort to grow a significant amount of vegetables this year.

Last year, really the only food crops I grew were some tomatoes and broccoli. This year, we've already have lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, sunflower, dill, red onion and beet in the ground, and tomato, fenugreek, bell pepper, okra, artichoke, pot marigold, mint, lavender, spinach, basil, thyme, and parsley sprouting for when it gets a bit warmer. That's not taking into account the summer squash, zucchini, and peas we have waiting to plant directly in the bed once we're past final frost date.

In addition to the edibles, we got a black cherry fuschia and a (I think?) night owl climbing rose. I also repotted the ficus and one of the tropical plants Rachel gave me last year that I've forgotten the name of. Oh, and I finally planted some of the spaces in the retaining wall! I put in some rockfoil, creeping red thyme, sedum, and Scottish moss. The Scottish moss looks especially nice, with it's bright lime green against the red lava rocks. I really hope they take and start to fill in this season!

Whew! Writing it all down, this was quite the weekend! I'm so glad I got a chance to do this! I'll have to take some pictures in the next few days to really capture where it is now.

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Optimism is... planting butternuts at Christmas

Like I said in my last post, everything has been late and disorganised this spring. However, I'm trying to get some stuff planted juuuusssssttttt under the wire for December, and hopefully they'll have time to grow before things cool down in the new year. Last year I was pretty amazed how long things lasted, to be honest; I had chilli peppers still kicking around through most of the winter, for example, albeit mostly just because I'd been too busy/lazy to pull them out. Still, I think I can rely on decent weather at least up through April, which is to say 4 full months.

So in keeping with that optimistic theory, I planted out butternut squash (or butternut pumpkin as we call it here) and potimarron (which is a smallish squash with a chestnut flavour), with a frame for the potimarron to climb up as they seemed to like that last year and it looks nice to have a bit of something vertical going on. I chucked a bunch of sunflower seeds in the gaps between them, along with some nasturtium and some cosmos, because the more bees/pollinators in the general vicinity of my squashes the happier I am. I just tossed a heaps and heap of seeds all over the place really, and I'm planning on thinning them if lots come up. I've come to realise that a packet of seeds only really lasts two years so there's no point in planting less than half a packet in any given year, and that if it's the last year you may as well plant them all. Right? (I mean, apart from those I swap and so forth.)

I pulled out all the arugula that's gone to seed; to be honest it came and went so quickly and I was travelling so much in the spring that I hardly ate any! Oh well. Any pods that were dry, I popped open and saved the seed (it's sitting on a plate on the back porch for a few days to dry fully before I bag it), and any that weren't quite dry I left on the stalks then tossed the stalks into parts of the garden where I wouldn't mind some chance-sown arugula next year.

Yesterday S from the local permaculture guild dropped off a little pot of purslane that had come up unintentionally in her greenhouse. There was a hilarious thread on the guild's facebook page with half the people going "ick, weed!" and the others going "yum! food!" I was on the "yum, food!" side, as it's great in summer salads and has a really nice lemony taste. We used to have purslane growing all over the place in Thornbury (where I lived before moving to Ballarat) but it doesn't seem to be common here. On the other hand there is lots of nettle at my current place which I would have loved in Thornbury but never saw a single one. Anyway, the purslane... I'm not sure where to plant it as I've never actually grown it. The internet suggests it's pretty hard to go wrong with it, but those are exactly the plants I tend to kill! Oh well, we shall see I suppose. Maybe I'll plant it under the clothesline; that area's mostly chickweed in winter but it really dies back in summer, while purslane's more of a summer thing, so maybe they can work in shifts. I guess I'll try it and see how it goes!

Meanwhile, in Growstuff-the-project news...

  • tygriffin has done some sterling work upgrading our platform to Rails 4, which now needs testing if anyone's got some time to spare
  • I'm still working on the notifications system, updating it to handle multiple types of notifications (such as "X is now following you") which will come in the new year
  • I posted a bit about the project's season arc for 2015 i.e. what we should be focusing on at different times of the year
  • Also I'm looking for suggestions of what people would like to see on the Growstuff blog next year

Off to Melbourne for Friendsmas tomorrow; I hadn't originally planned to do anything, but I realised I needed people and would just be mopey if I stayed home alone. I hope those who are celebrating have a delicious one full of home-grown and home-made food!

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A slow start to summer

I'm so very, very behind on my gardening. I was travelling heaps and had lots of other commitments through October/November, which is peak spring planting time here, and nothing got done. I've come to the realisation that if I'm going to do work that involves that sort of travel, I need to cut myself some slack on the garden front, and not expect to eg. raise tomatoes from seed. Instead, I can buy seedlings. Which is what I did, in the end. I also hired someone to mow my lawn, which was blocking me from doing a bunch of things because I wanted to lay out more no-dig bed but the grass was so high and my lawnmower so useless (it's a little electric one, and I now have a large and triffid-like "lawn") that I couldn't even get started.

Anyway. Current status:

  • most winter/spring crops are finished, still have some cavalo nero ticking along surprisingly well considering the cabbage moths
  • my broad bean crop was late-sown but delicious; will definitely plant more, and earlier, next year
  • I have self-sown sunflowers, which are now considerably taller than I am; next year, I will make a point of scattering the seed intentionally in places where I want them.
  • I've been tossing arugula and sorrel seeds all over the place down the back of the yard, as I pull out or cut back plants that have gone to seed. Hopefully they'll grow in abundance next year!
  • I've planted half a dozen tomato plants, some from friends and some from the shop and a couple that actually made it from seed -- I am honestly not quite sure what I have but I think there's a tommy toe, a couple of jaune flammes, a wild sweetie, a lemon drop, one other biggish red one that I forget the variety of, and I have a few San Marzano tomato seedlings (raised from seed) ready to go in when I do get the new no-dig beds sorted. They'll be late but better than nothing.
  • I bought eggplant seedlings as my seeds didn't make it, and planted half a dozen "black beauty" and one "bianco rosso" or something (those beautiful pale ones)
  • I planted a habanero pepper (bought fairly advanced from the nursery) and some kind of Thai chilli, and I have a range of others coming up from seed which will be ready to plant out when the aforementioned no-dig bed is done.
  • Haven't planted a single zucchini or any other kind of squash yet, argh! But I planted them late last year too, and that was fine.

In short it's all a bit of a mess but it's sort of getting there, and it's better than nothing.

With regard to the development of Growstuff itself, I'm delighted with our move off the mailing lists and over to Growstuff Talk and would definitely love to invite anyone who's interested in how Growstuff is built, or just generally what happens under the hood, to come over and chat with us. We have an Idea forum where it'd be great to get more people's input!

Some recent discussions that you might like to weigh in on:

Also new: the other day I did some work on updating our README on github and making a better Get Involved page on the wiki. Hopefully they make it easier for people who aren't necessarily coders to see how they could be a part of this :)

This afternoon, I'm going to try and get some of that no-dig action happening and maybe even plant some squash. Wish me luck!

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  • How to grow sunflowers

    Grown for: seed (2)

    Plant from: seed (24), seedling (3), (1)

    Plant in: sun (21), semi-shade (5), (5)

    Scientific names

    • Helianthus annuus

    Alternate names

    None known.

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