Grow Sunflowers With The Grandchildren

Posted on: 23 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

A simple gardening project and a delicious recipe for all ages.

As bright as the sun, these brilliant yellow flowers will stand out amongst your fruit and vegetables. But wait before picking, because it's the seeds you are after for eating.

Grow it from seed to plant in 10 weeks. Sunflowers need lots of direct sunlight.

Recycle newspapers by rolling them up to make biodegradable pots.

1 At the end of spring, put soil into some small pots with holes in their base. Use your finger to make a hole 2.5 cm (1 in) deep in each pot.

2 Sow one seed into each hole. Cover the seeds lightly with soil. Water and place the pot onto a sunny windowsill.

3 Cover the pot with a see-through polythene bag to keep in the heat. Remove this bag when the leaves appear on the seedlings.

4 Keep watering little but often. Watch and wait. They'll be ready to plant outside when they are large enough to handle and their roots fill the pot.

5 When a seedling has outgrown its pot, it is ready to plant into a large container. Scoop out a pot-sized hole and carefully place the seedling into it. Water in.

6 Once the plant is bigger, push a cane a short distance away from the main stem. Use string to tie the stem, loosely to the cane. As it grows, make a tie every 20 cm (8 in).

7 Continue to water little but often, as without water, the sunflower will quickly wither. Keep the plant free from pests by picking them off with your fingers.

8 Use a measuring tape to find out the height of your sunflower. You could make a chart to see how quickly it grows.

Before opening, the flower bud will follow the position of the sun through the day.

Wait for the flower heads to turn brown, then tap out the seeds.

DK Grow It Eat It - sunflower pot loavesSunflower Pot Loaves

Fill your kitchen with the homely smell of bread-making. Also, why not try roasting sunflower seeds to munch as a snack?

You'll need:

  • 250 g (9 oz) strong white bread flour
  • 150 g (6 oz) wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 sachet 7 g (1/2 oz) fast-action yeast
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz) warm water
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100 g (4 oz) sunflower seeds
  • Four 11 x 10 cm (5 x 4 in) terracotta pots
  • A little milk

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6.

1 Scrub the flower pots with clean water. Oil the pots inside and out and bake them in a preheated oven. Let them cool. Repeat this process twice more.

2 Place the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil. Mix to make a soft but firm dough.

3 Turn the dough out onto a lightly dusted work surface and knead well for at least 10 minutes. Swap over with an adult if your arms are getting tired.

4 Make a dip and add three-quarters of the sunflower seeds. Knead them into the dough.

You can leave the dough to rise overnight in the fridge.

5 Divide the dough into four pieces and place one ball into each flower pot. Cover the pots with a plastic bag and leave until the dough has doubled in size.

6 Brush the tops of the risen loaves with a little milk. Sprinkle over the remaining sunflower seeds and bake the loaves in the oven until golden.

Cooking time: 35-40 minutes.

Slip out of the pot and look what you've got!

DK Grow It Eat ItThis extract is taken from Grow It, Eat, It, published by DK, available at all good bookshops, RRP £9.99, or online at Amazon for £6.99.

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