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I became motivated to grow sunflowers because we manage eight food allergies in our home. Roasted sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter is one of the delicious and healthy foods we get to enjoy.

When we started growing sunflowers, we had never grown one and had only enjoyed purchasing products made using sunflower seeds. Now, we enjoy the work and reward that goes into a sunflower field.

We began with a seed and planted it. We found a very sunny location where there would be full sun. We also needed an area with good soil that drained well. We cared for the seeds, and there was so much excitement on the day we saw the first plants begin to grow. We did have to battle with birds and critters, so we had to take efforts to protect our young little plants. We used a small protective portable “chicken wire” fence to keep the critters out. We discovered that onion bags make an excellent covering for the young plants. We just use them for a couple of weeks until the plants were big enough that the birds stopped bothering them. I have not found a commercial solution yet, and I don’t have enough onion bags to do this right.

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As a homeschooling family, who loves unit studies, the boys have been creating a lapbook about all of the steps involved with growing sunflowers. They will soon get to add in harvesting sunflowers. Eventually, we will get to make our own roasted sunflower seed butter. Through their lapbook, they share what they are learning with words and pictures.

We also have an organic vegetable garden. This year, we are studying companion gardening. Some plants do well with sunflowers and plants that do poorly with a sunflower. We have planted some of our organic cucumbers so that they can grow up the sunflower.  Cucumbers, Corn, peppers, and tomatoes benefit from having sunflowers growing near them. We have learned that potatoes do not want to be anywhere near sunflowers.

We are studying, experimenting and becoming experts at growing sunflowers through a lot of trials and hard work.

We will be learning how to harvest sunflower seeds as soon as they are ready. I’m sure we’ll have to beat the birds to the beautiful, delicious sunflowers. We are all most excited about will happen next – time in the kitchen. We are looking forward to roasting our sunflower seeds and making our sunflower seed butter. The boys will be involved with it every step of the way. We’ll be making some homemade bread and homemade crackers and enjoying the first batch soon.