Mongolian Giant Sunflower

Nothing much to say about the Mongolian Giant Sunflower other than, “wow”. I got these seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and they have lived up to the “giant” in the name. I’m going to have to climb a ladder to harvest the seeds.

Though I don’t see the need to get competitive with my sunflowers, Renee’s Garden has some good harvesting advice,

As the petals fall off, the center florets dry up and the seed kernels begin to swell in the disks, carefully climb a stepladder and cover your flower head with a mesh onion bag or loose burlap or paper bag. This keeps marauding birds from robbing your seeds so that the heads look perfect and complete when you are ready to show them off to friends or proudly display them on their long stalks at your local county fair. Cut the stalks at the base when the ripened seeds develop a hard shell. If you plan to eat your sunflower seeds or preserve them for your bird feeder, wait until the seeds are completely dry; then remove them by hand or by rubbing them over wire mesh into a basket. Store in tightly closed containers to keep rodents away.

In addition to the native sunflowers that reseed themselves every year I think I’ll plant a few Mongolian Giants each summer. If you’ve got a favorite sunflower variety, either ornamental or edible, please leave a comment.

Mrs. Homestead here: Turns out sunflowers can also help clean up radioactive contamination. Good to know! They’re planting them in Fukushima. (via Boing Boing)

Winter Squash Disaster

Those of you who follow this blog may recall last summer’s “squash baby” fiasco.  This year I planted a few Marina di Chioggia squash plants (technically a pumpkin) in one of my vegetable beds located in a more secure location. Instead of some homo sapien making off with my squash bounty, it looks like the neighborhood raccoons are having a gnocchi party somewhere. All I’ve got to show for three Chioggia plants is one small squash and the one pictured above.

Household animal tracking expert Mrs. Homegrown assures me that the nearby scat pile belongs to some raccoons.

My thoughts after another year under a squash curse: winter squash takes up too much room to devote precious vegetable bed space if, like me, you don’t have a lot of room. In previous years I’ve tucked it in unused corners of the yard and let it sprawl around. That’s what I’ll do next year.