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Sunflowers: Scalp High by the Fourth of July?

Sunflowers on May 31, 2009Last year, I planted mammoth sunflower seeds out of a packet in late April. By the end of July, big, tall, heads head appeared in my backyard. Most of them were donated to the birds, who gladly accepted the gift, but I did saw off two heads and let them dry in the basement over the winter. In the spring, one of those heads went to afternoon chewing on the back porch. The other mammoth sunflower head was stripped of its seeds for planting; just one head provided more than enough for a new set of seedlings.

Anticipating a move out of state in early July, I planted these sunflower seeds at the beginning of April this year. It was a bit early for central Ohio, but the little plants managed to dodge the frost. Here’s how they look as of today, May 31. The biggest plants are an even 3 feet tall today, or as my children measure it, more than three shingles tall against my landlady’s shed. Do you think I’ll be able to harvest a head by July 7, the day I head out of town for good? I’m a bit dubious about my chances. This year, I may have to leave all the seeds for the birds, then go back to packets for new soil in the new year to come. That would be disappointing, but after years of itinerant living in increasingly populous places I look forward to finally settling down and putting down roots, easing into long years’ rhythm of growing, harvesting and replanting.

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