Anyone who feeds birds black oil sunflower seeds knows that good seeds end up on the ground. It’s obvious by the big piles of shells under the feeder; you know all of those shells haven’t been cracked open. It’s even more obvious when a field of sunflowers starts growing around your feeder!
Volunteer plants. You have no work invested and sometimes you’re surprised by what comes up!
Any sunflowers that start growing, are usually allowed to grow around here. The bees are attracted to them and the birds don’t mind the shelter they provide. This year, I’ve noticed that the Goldfinches are really drawn to the sunflowers. It’s been a lot of fun watching them try to get a good footing on the flower as they attempt to dislodge a plump seed to devour. Bunnies wander around under the flowers, eating seeds that have been dropped. The squirrels usually sit on top of the flower and ride it in the wind, like a bucking bronco. It’s pretty cute. My husband says it’s like a Disney movie in the back yard!
Besides the free entertainment and the micro eco-system it provides, I’m guessing there are at least 1000 seeds on most of the heads, so there’s not a lot of waste.
When the seeds look fully developed, you can let them dry on the plant or cut the heads and dry them. The birds and squirrels will usually get to them first, so again, not a lot of work involved. In the fall, before the frost, I pull the plants and strip the leaves off the stems. The leaves go into the compost pile and the stems can be shredded for mulch.
If I had more room, I would take a few handfuls of sunflowers and plant a small field. It seems like a good investment…1 seed into 1000! 🙂