The Great Sunflower Project

Help determine the health of urban bees with a citizen science experiment called the Great Sunflower Project. It’s simple and free. Just register at the Great Sunflower Project website and you’ll be sent a package of wild annual sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus). Twice a month you’ll get an email to remind you to time how long it takes for five bees to visit your sunflowers.

Sounds like it has drinking game potential, though that might lead to inaccurate results . . .

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  1. Dear Erik and Kelly, I happened upon your blog when I was searching for DIY self watering containers. I loved the style of the video and I love the irreverent tone of the writing. I would love to see more of the garden. My wife however has tolerated my wanting to have more of a homestead life. She tolerated me getting my chickens (lovely little bantam hens who have yet to produce an egg between them) and me digging up the backyard to put in raised beds. I think she would just want things to be more aesthetically pleasing. She understands about the benefits to the environment and healthier lifestyle but she would like it to be less jungle and more Martha Stewart. Would love any ideas.

  2. Hello Silverlake neighbors!
    Thank you for the sunflower post. We are excited to start are bee watching this summer.
    -Your friendly Highland Park neighbors

  3. Thanks for sharing! I signed up and sent out the link to a bunch of friends who garden.

  4. jeff c-

    I’ve been meaning to post some photos of our garden as a whole and will do so soon when I get back from Texas. Some random thoughts:

    1. I still struggle with high aesthetic expectations caused, I think, by seeing too many “garden porn” spreads in magazines and books (i.e. Martha). We ain’t professionals around the Homegrown Evolution garden. Sometimes it looks good and sometimes it’s downright ugly (especially in hot and dry August). However, I will say that our ongoing experiment in edible/useful landscaping always looks better than the alternative: a sickly lawn wilting under the blazing Southern California sun. If you’ve got a “jungle”, I’d say that sounds like a good thing–at least your plants are thriving.

    2. I don’t know where you live Jeff, but odds are there is a non-profit organization that offers low cost vegetable gardening classes. I wish that I had sought out mentors sooner.

    3. Edible perennials are the holy grail of edible landscaping. Three of my favorite plants for our climate are the artichoke, the cardoon, and the prickly pear cactus. They are hardy, provide food, and are aesthetically pleasing. If you’re in the northwest the blueberry plant comes to mind as an attractive edible perennial.

    4. Some attractive annuals–mustard greens, kale, sweat peas, pole beans on a trellis or teepee, cabbage, swiss chard. I’m sure our readers can suggest some more. Contrasting colors, say the dark mustard greens next to bright green lettuce look good as does contrasting shapes, say pole beens climbing a trellis next to a big, round cabbages. Mix in some flowers to attract bees and provide color.

    4. Mulch. Mulch is good for your plants, conserves water and can make things look neater.


  5. I finally have bumblebees- ok a single all black bumblebee- in my garden now that it is filled with giant vollunteer sunflowers

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