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Sunflower seed question

Ashley Ross


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 76
This year my sunflower seeds attracted little yellow finches. They were eating the seeds before they were turning black. My question is were they eating them before they matured, or are some sunflower seeds just white?

I was thinking that if your seeds are normally a dark color, when they aren't it means they aren't viable to germinate.
Richard White


Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 10
I am thinking you are correct in your observations. The best seed are plump and black. I saved enough of last year's harvest to plant a 200' double row in a modified Keyline design for 1) wind break, 2) chicken feed, 3) soil building, 4) compost, and 5) to attract bees and pollinators for my other nearby crops. As I harvest now a few heads have seeds that are whitish in color and appear immature. Immature means they they probably will not germinate due to seed maturity. It does not mean they are not nutritious as your Finches can testify especially if the seed are plump and white. Right now it is a battle between me and my wild finches, sparrows, dove, quail and feral pigeons. My chickens are free rangers and also compete for the seed that ends up on the ground. There is an additional side benefit; the bird droppings are bringing additional phosphorous to my otherwise arid sandy landscape.

Keep up the good work. The flowers are a bright and cheery reminder of the good we are doing for the environment.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1526
Location: zone 7
    
  11
It depends on the sunflower type. I have 10+ different sunflowers and all of them have different seeds. Some are white, though I've come to notice they don't self seed as well as the ones with dark, soil colored, or speckled seeds. They must be easy pickings for birds.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Richard White


Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 10
Thanks for the comment. What species have you tried? I have gravitated to the multiple flower yet robust and tall (to 8 ft) specimens as they perform well over the past 4 years and hold up to my daily 20+ mph dry winds; not sure of the species name. I replant from my own seed supply.
Ashley Ross


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 76
Wow! Thanks for all the info and cool suggestions on how to use the sunflowers. This year I took a very wild approach and just threw seeds everywhere. It resulted in my garden looking a bit like a sunflower forest I had read that some people use their dried out sunflowers and position them over squash plants that are being eaten up by squash bugs because the birds browse the seed then also find the bugs and eat them. However, I was thinking this year that if I have so many sunflowers as I did, wouldn't the birds just land on them instead of dropping down to nab the seeds and insects near the ground? For that reason I was thinking about planting less next year. I'm not sure though. I know that sunflower roots help break up the soil really well, and we have a lot of clay where I am at, so I was maybe going to plant patches of them in the areas I'm not yet turning into garden to help get that soil loosened up.
Richard White


Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 10
Good comment on breaking up your clay with roots. Clays are problematic in that they have low oxygen in the root zone when wet. Old root channels will conduct oxygen into the soil and young plants won't have to work so hard in the future. All is good. Cheers`
Alison Thomas
volunteer

Joined: Jul 22, 2009
Posts: 933
Location: France
    
    5
If you are thinking of eating the seeds yourself.....The seeds that are completely black are normally used for oil production (I didn't find that out until too late year when I'd planted half an acre of them by hand!!). The ones that are stripey are good for human consumption. This year's seed came from a sack of wildbird feed - that way I could sort out all the stripeys for our planting. Interestingly though, the bees didn't seem to be drawn to these flowers as much as last years - odd. Might have been because I had planted so much more bee-browse now that we have honeybees and they preferred the other things??

Yes it's true that sunflower roots break up the soil but also bear in mind that are hungry feeders and may deplete the nutrient base considerably.
Ashley Ross


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 76
That is good to know! I had always wondered which ones were good for oil. So is it any that are black? And as for the striped ones being the ones we eat, is it any striped kind, or is it just the one kind that is striped?
 
 
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