Photos From the Back Yard

Grow Your Own Birdseed

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!

Photos From the Back Yard

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!  🙂

volunteer plants

The Joy of Volunteer Plants

Volunteer plants are unexpected guests that come up on their own.  Sometimes they are courtesy of the birds, other times they come from over achieving seeds that made it through the winter.

As far North as we live, a volunteer plant is always a welcomed guest, and I am always amazed by the tenacity of some of our visitors.

The photos are of some unexpected guests we had last summer.


Last year, I started feeding the birds whole sunflower seeds and we have many sunflowers in the flower garden and vegetable garden.  They have certainly been a cheerful addition to our yard and we have spent many quiet moments watching the Goldfinches land on the sunflowers and eat the seeds.  We even have a Gray Squirrel that likes to climb the tallest sunflower and eats his share too.  His weight makes the sunflower bob back and forth and he kind of looks like he’s riding a bucking bronco!

Squirrel on a sunflower

Other unexpected visitors this year have been numerous tomato plants.  Some are too close to the pumpkins to grow well, but there is one in particular that is growing vigorously by my rhubarb and even has tomatoes on it!   I had a couple of zucchinis or cucumbers that started growing, but I ended up pulling those, just because of other things I had planted nearby.


The most surprising volunteer plant I have this year is a Portulaca!  I can’t imagine how it made it through the winter, but it came up in early August and is blooming.


Life is full of surprises and I really enjoy this kind.  So did the birds and squirrels!


I’m looking forward to finding more volunteers this summer!

Enjoyment of simple surprises…Priceless!