I get my green thumb from my sweet, sweet grandma. She was an avid organic gardener long before the term was coined. Her beautiful vegetable and flower gardens mesmerized me and instilled a love and wonder for the beauty of nature within my soul. I bet she chuckles in heaven, accepting that I am usually too busy to adopt her old fashioned ways of planting from seed. I usually begin with starter plants, but a busy girl has to do what a busy girl has to do.
My Grandma Atkinson always did everything the old-fashioned way, meaning plants were propagated from cutting or by seed and everything got a good dash of rich, smelly cow manure from time to time. She even saved seeds from her beloved garden babies and set them aside for future generations.
A couple of years ago I decided to grow sunflowers, my grandma’s way, from seed. Once they were up and blooming, even my husband Mike fell in love with them. That year the smash hit ended with us harvesting the seeds for the birds!
This year Mike purchased some sunflower seeds from Gill’s at the end of May. I started numerous varieties, more babies than I had room to plant in my garden. So many that I was able to share some with Gill staff! I staggered the seed plantings so the plants would set bloom over a period of weeks. The seedlings this year were sown in starter flats. They also can be successfully started in other types of containers like recycled milk cartons (Grandma’s favorite) or even straight into your flowerbed. The key to success is water. Keep the soil damp enough that the seeds are able to break out of their heavy shells and emerge as seedlings. Once they emerge, don’t splash water on their foliage because that can cause downy mildew. Find that sweet spot where they do not drown from being kept too wet, and yet never allow the soil to completely dry out.
Prior to my second set of seedlings being transplanted to the ground, I did a show and tell with them at Gill’s at one of my garden talks. After the talk, it was time. My seedlings were large enough to endure being transplanted, so into the garden they went. I mixed Plant Tone into the soil for good organic matter. I was rewarded with a ton of rain shortly thereafter. They started growing by leaps and bounds.
The week of July 4th, they started revealing their happy faces one by one all over my backyard almost as if to announce, “Summer is here!” As a result, my Facebook page was filled to the brim with happy sunflowers that warmed everyone’s hearts and vases were filled with sunshine flowers I shared with friends.
Gill’s has sunflower seeds now and no, it’s not too late to plant for a beautiful fall harvest! Hope you enjoy them as much as my family has!