Sunflowers

I’ve been growing a sunflower that I was given, and I’ve put the photos of said sunflower on the fridge – my neighbour thought that I might like them. Next summer, I hope to have some seeds from this flower (which has now died) and some purple seeds!! Hopefully next summer I will have more than one sunflower!

The common sunflower has a scientific name: Helianthus annuus. The plant is native to the America’s – Kansas is also known as the Sunflower State. However, the sunflower is also the national flower for Ukraine.

Sunflowers can grow up to 10 foot tall and the flower head can be 30 cm wide. In the right sunny conditions, a sunflower can grow 8-12 foot in 6 months. Mine didn’t quite make 8 foot tall, but maybe 6 foot. I’m not complaining seeing as the heat dried it up a few times over when I wasn’t able to water it. And, I crispied up it’s leaves by putting suncream on it (I was trying to help it!). According to the Guinness Book of Records, the tallest sunflower on record grew to 30’1″ in Germany in 2014. One day, I will beat that record…

Other facts about the sunflower include:

  • The sunflower can be used to make sunflower oil and it can be used for its fruit (the seeds)
  • The flower is actually a pseudanthium of small individual, 5-petal florets
  • The sunflower has 17 chromosomes
  • The sunflower is sexually sterile
  • The sunflower needs full sun
  • The sunflower is a symbol of the Vegan Society
  • The sunflower can be destroyed by fusarium (fungi) and downy mildew
  • Sunflower seeds are best sown 1 inch below the surface of the soil
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A green week

Someone had (kindly) offered to help me, but I wanted to get on with it to give myself something to do. It’s kind that someone wanted to help, but I’m not an invalid. It’s my garden. I have a mediocre immune system. I’m physically and medically allowed. I can. I will. So I did…

I just chopped, and chopped and chopped.

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I started with an overgrown wilderness. What the photo doesn’t properly show is that things were so overgrown that I couldn’t access my shed without a battle, and that my washing line was more of a feature for the things to use as a climbing frame, rather than for me to dry my clothes.

All the chopping was quite therapeutic. I hacked away, filling my garden waste bags. I have now filled six (a man down the road guessed 13, my friend scoffed at 6 and guessed 2 – I’m more with the neighbours guess)… I’ve done 30 minutes here and there because I’ve had my nose in a few good books this week, so, all the while I’m in the garden, I’m missing out on valuable reading time… But, also, if I went at it like a bull in a china shop, I’m not so sure I’d enjoy the process.

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I have had some tough stuff to hack through. I was chopping away, wondering who I could ask to come with a chain saw. The most obvious person I could think of was one of the recycled teenagers where I get given copious tea, or, a vague acquaintance who I know possesses a chain saw. Hopefully the vague acquaintance won’t forget, and will come with a chain saw to chop through the big branches.

For the smaller branches, I have treated myself to a saw-knife-chopper-thing. Well, my brother bought it for me because I used a gift card that he gave me to buy it.

This knife-saw-chopper seemed a little safer to use than a bow saw (which you apparently use for gardening) and I figured that it might come in handy for other things. I’m not too sure what those other things might be, but, it seemed more value for money than a bow saw that I hopefully wouldn’t need after this job has been done. It’s actually quite sharp and easy to use but it won’t cut through those big branches!

So, after a week, what do I have to show for my hard work? I have this:

 

 

Green fingers

I, to a certain extent, have an interest in gardening. I like to grow vegetables that I can eat. At the moment, my garden is a bit of a wilderness. It’s only a small garden, but it’s big enough for me, my interests and what I want to do.

As horrified as people may be, I want to get rid of everything – and I mean, everything. The only plants that I want, are the ones that I have planted in pots. I don’t want to keep things that “look pretty” and I don’t want to keep things because they produce beautiful flowers. I want things in my garden that I have chosen and that I can grow in pots and bags. I want to be able to move things around in the garden, and I want to be able to access my washing line. Currently, my washing line is being assaulted by the overgrowing bushes and plants and is an anchor point for many cob webs. I can’t even get in and out of my shed without being harassed by the overgrowth!

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I have plans – albeit, simple and boring!

  • I’m going to clear it all, with the exception of what I’ve planted (along the right wall in the growing bags).
  • I’ll get a longer washing line and “rewire” it to create more space to hang more stuff outside.
  • I would like to put a deckchair in the corner (bottom left of the picture), with a little paddling pool that my next door neighbour has kindly offered me (so that I can sit there and use my BBQ).
  • I would like to hang bunting and solar panel night lights around the garden.
  • I would like to get a new shed door sorted out.
  • I’ll clear my shed of all the cardboard rubbish that I have stored in there from when I moved in.

I have the rest of the summer to crack on with this job. I’m thinking “an hour a day…” – but there are other circumstances which might not permit this plan. Still, it’s something for me to work at and plan.

I am open to suggestions as to how my garden might be improved – so long as it’s not “you should keep [x]”. I don’t want to keep anything that I haven’t put there. I’m also open to tips on how to make sure things don’t grow back – I’ve heard that salt is good to kill off plants and weeds, and that beer attracts the slugs…