Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012
Sunflowers: for the birds
When a sack of birdseed costs more than a choice cut of beef, it’s time to start shopping around.
David Price was not only looking for an inexpensive sack of birdseed, he was looking for free birdseed.
“Twenty-five dollars is just too much to pay for bird seed,” Price said. “So, I sifted the black oil sunflower seeds out of a sack of birdseed and decided to grow sunflowers and my own seeds.”
Price admits that his row of sunflowers on Murphree Street is beginning to look a little “seedy” at this time of year. The sunflowers that line the sidewalk along his front lawn have begun to lose their color and drop their heavy heads.
But, when he lifts the sunflowers’ drooping heads, what Price sees makes him smile. The dark sunflower heads are filled with little flowers that will be the seeds – the bird feed of the future.
“The seeds are not ready just yet,” Price said. “These tiny flowers, the ones that have been pollinated by the bees, will be seeds.”
When the sunflower heads are ready to be cut, Price will put them in a bucket and in a dry place until spring planting time.
“The best time to plant sunflower seeds is probably May,” he said. “You want to make sure to plant after the chance of frost is gone. Sunflowers seeds are no trouble to plant. Just dig a little trench and drop the seeds in the ground, just like you would do if you were planting corn.”
Price plants his black oil sunflower seeds about an inch deep, covers them and then gives them a good dousing of water.
“Sunflowers like the sun but they also need water,” he said. “I have a soak hose on mine. If we don’t get rain, I soak them about two hours each week. They’ve got to have water.
“The bigger they get, the more water they need.”
Price estimated that he has about 100 sunflower plants and each has one head or more.
When the heads seed, they will make natural feeders for the birds. The birds can pluck the seeds directly from the natural feeders.
With far more than 100 natural feeders for his backyard, Price that certain that his time sifting black oil sunflowers seeds from a bag of birdseed has paid high dividends.