I love growing sunflowers in my garden. Their heads are magical as they follow the sun. Bees adore them and so do unfortunately squirrels Timing the harvest can be tricky but once you get the hang of it, you will be eating those addictive seeds before you know it.
When to Harvest
First tale tell time is when the sunflowers start to droop and most of its flowers have fallen off. I grow eight foot sunflowers so the heads are quite big.
This is when I harvest the sunflowers.
- When the back of the head turns yellow
- You can see a black stripe in the seed head. (You might need to remove a few of the yellow florets to see.)
- When the birds and squirrels start eating them.
I then cut the head down along with 12 inches of the stalk. Believe me, I have timed it way too early. Last year I tried putting a paper bag over it so that any seeds that fell went into the bag.
Squirrels and Sunflowers
This year the squirrels were absolutely horrible. They think I am the dumbest human alive. A bag, they laughed. They neatly threw my bag to the ground, string and all and proceeded to have a feast on one of my prized sunflowers.
Luckily, I recovered half of it. So, if you have squirrels it is a real timing game. (A post on how to keep squirrels out of your yard is coming.)
I was told to let my sunflower dry out and it would be easier to harvest. Not. I put it in a brown bag in the garage. One week later, the bag was leaking brown sunflower juice and it smelled horrible. Other years, they have molded.
So, I resort to the old rub the sunflower game to get the seeds out. Watch my video below. So time consuming but I haven’t found an alternative that works for me. All up for suggestions!
Once you got the seeds out of the sunflower, it is time to soak the seeds in salt water. Check back as I explain how to soak and then roast. I know. Can’t you just smell the seeds?
Join the Conversation:
- Do you grow sunflowers? If so, is it for eating the seeds or bring in pollinators.
- When do you know it is time to take down your sunflower?
- How do you get the seeds out of the sunflower?