Virginia Forest grows sunflowers in
the garden to provide sunflower seeds to the birds during the winter. Sunflowers bring bees and songbirds to the garden.
Harvest sunflower seeds
after the flower begins to die back, and most if not all, of the petals have
fallen off. Pull out a seed and open it to see if it is full. Cut off the head,
leaving a few inches of stalk. Hang the stalks to dry in a well ventilated area.
Do not stack them in a box, as mold can develop during the drying process. As
soon as the flowers have dried, extract the seeds by rubbing two flower heads
together. They should come off of the flowerhead fairly easily.
Share the sunflower seeds with wildlife. Birds and squirrels will begin
their assault before the seeds are completely ripe. Protect against this annual
invasion by covering the entire flower with an old nylon stocking, a cheese
cloth bag, or any other covering that allows light and especially air to flow
through. Do not use plastic bags, as moisture buildup will rot the flower and
heat buildup will scald it. Put a bag below the flower to catch any seeds that