Thursday, May 1, 2014


(All the photos are from Johnny's Seed, where I buy my sunflower seeds)

I mentioned the other day that I've been having problems with sunflowers....lack of pollination. As a result, 50% of the hulls have no seed in them. Duds. Stan from California advised me to don't grow them anymore. He felt that the return wasn't worth the effort. Carol from Connecticutt suggested buying bees to pollinate them. Well, bees are difficult to keep healthy. I have a hive, but it takes time to keep it going. I don't think I want to add more right now. Besides, I figure it costs me around $500 to set up a hive -- two deep brood chambers, two supers, bottom board set up with oil pans and screen, top boards, frames, bees. Pricey solution that I'm not ready to take. Debbie from New Jersey suggested encouraging hummingbirds to visit the farm. I surely miss the little hummingbirds, for they don't exist here in Hawaii. 

So why do I keep growing sunflowers? 

1- For chicken food. 

2- As treats for the sheep and goat. They love the chopped up sunflowers. 

3- Encourages bees to visit the garden area. 

4- And foremost, because they are pretty. I love flowers. They make me smile and make me happy. Even if I never got even one seed from them I'd still have sunflowers growing here. They're great. 
My sunflowers don't often look as nice as these photos from the seed catalog. We have a significant problem with mildew here making the plant look poorly. But the flowers themselves often look nice. 


  1. I also like the good old Helianthus annuus, and the taller, bigger-headed, the better! In California, I let the birds have all the seeds they could take, and I'm sure that mice and rats ate the seeds that fell - those flowers said "a frustrated farmer lives here" to my association-controlled neighbors then. I'm still taming the farmlet-reverted-to-wilderness here in Oregon, but I do plan to put sunflowers in place of the giant knotweed that grows so invasively here.
    Have you looked into the "top bar hive" beekeeping? I'm not a Langstroth hive fan, and even Warre hives look like a lot of work by comparison. Beekeeping has not been approved by my wife, but it might get "exempted" if I can locate a TBH at the far corner of our 10 acres. If not, well, we do have lots of bumblebees here...

    1. Barry, I used to have three top bar hives going, that was before the commercial bee guys brought in varroa mite, hive beetle, and nosema. When those guys drop 300+ hives off at the macnut orchard up the road, my own hives get overwhelmed.