Mammoth Sunflower POWER!

transcription of “Mammoth Sunflower POWER” video..by The Urban Farming Guys

You helping? Yep. You’re doing a good job, you know that?

So, the problem with mammoth sunflowers is they grow so fast that they end up falling over on their side almost 100% of the time..& I just refuse to stake them. But, we found another way. So, what you gotta do is dig a trench & put your seeds in at the bottom. Sunflowers are one of the few plants that you can pack dirt around the stem as it grows. Now, you can put your mammoth sunflowers wherever you want, not just on the side of the house or on the fence.

Our mammoth sunflowers are just about to the point where they’re about to blow over. So, we planted them in a ditch. Now, they’re grown up about almost a foot & we’re gonna pack the soil that’s piled up around the outside up around the plant. This way, you don’t have to stake them. Do this process when the plant reaches six inches…& pack some more dirt around it before it reaches two feet tall. You’re gonna want to put some fertilizer on these plants. We use fish waste from our aquaponics system. So, we’ve pretty much done that all the way down & now they’ll stand up on their own..& they’ve got a little troth for the water.

Here we are, it’s July 12th & our sunflowers have reached full maturity. & just through this time of waiting & watching, I feel like I, too, have reached full maturity. These things are growing right here with our pole beans & here’s one..& they are ripe, too. What we’re gonna do today is protect these seed heads from the birds. Last year, we lost 50% of our harvest just because the birds were one step ahead of us. We’re gonna show you how to do that. & we’ve got a special guest today; I’m gonna introduce you to her.

Today, we are here with some really special people. We’ve got Arthi & Voot. They are traveling across America on bicycles. They started in Boston. They’re traveling halfway across; we’re here in KC now. They are doing random acts of kindness everywhere they stop. So, this is Arthi & this is Voot. Can you tell me a little bit about what you guys are doing? Yeah, I’d be happy to. So, Arthi & I actually met in a class about community organizing at Harvard. & when we were in that class Arthi told me about her plan of biking across the country & doing these random acts. & it inspired me. I just thought this was a great idea. I love the idea of you know actually experiencing communities by biking through them..& meeting people in a much more interactive way vs. just kind of driving through & just seeing things through the window of your car. So, the kind of random acts of kindness we’ve done have been just a range all across the map. We’ve helped one guy clean his car leak. Our most interesting one, I think, to date, until now of course, has been helping a group called Pick Up America..& we’re just on our bikes, trudging through the sun, & we see a big, converted school bus driving by. & on the side of it, it said, “Pick Up America”. So, we’re interested. We go up, stop the bus, & ask them what they’re up to. They say, we’re doing a trash pick up, we’re picking up litter coast to coast. They started in MD, & now they were also in IN. We asked if we could join them for the day. They said sure. So, we spent the day with them just walking down the highway picking up trash along with them. We ended up spending two days picking up trash with them & the third day we ended up being in a parade with them in St. Louis.

Wow! That is super cool..So, you’ve met some interesting people, huh? Had some great conversations? We’ve had amazing conversations, & I think the best learning that we’ve had is people in this country are really kind & generous. & what we have done, has in no way shape or form, even come close to what other people have done for us. Wow! So, you go to give & –? & then, it’s just ridiculous..we have been given back like leaps & bounds more than we ever could have dreamed of giving. This one woman we met two days ago—We came into her town, we asked her if we could help her out with anything..She put us up in a hotel for the night, & she made us this amazing dinner, & she just shared a beautiful conversation & time with us..She gave us a lot of love & we were complete strangers. So, you know, it’s just been–Every single person we’ve met along the way has been incredibly kind & generous towards us & it’s been a fight to find something to give when every one’s been giving to us so much. So, it’s been really inspiring.

That is incredible! That is really cool! So, these guys heard about us & stopped by & we’ve had a great conversation, great time. Now, they’re about to help us harvest these sunflowers & they helped us with some green beans & some other things. Now, we’re gonna get to it. Woo! Okay, let’s do it!

So, Candy’s been researching this after what happened last year with the birds. Candy, what do we need to do? Well, we can take paper bags..You wanna use paper, not plastic, so they won’t mold. You put them over the head & you allow the sunflowers to finish maturing in the bags. So, it keeps the birds from getting at them & then you’re able to get a seed with more meat in it. We could harvest these now, but they’d be mostly shell & not enough meat. So, we want them to go a little longer, but we don’t want the birds to get them.

Yeah, so I’ve heard that you can cut these down & hang them in your house or on your porch, but you’re saying to leave them on the stem? As long as you can, yeah. So, we’re gonna put the bag on there to keep the birds from eating them..& then, come out here..When do we come back out here & take the bag off? You want them right as the seeds are starting to actually fall off of whatever this is called. They’ll get so dry..these little yellow things will fall off first & then the seeds will start to actually get loose so then you can just go like this & they fall right off. It was really hard the one year we picked them a little early before the birds got them. We had to pick & they were really green & we didn’t have a lot of meat…Yeah, I had blisters on both my thumbs. Alright, let’s get to it!

Boston to Boulder! So, this is everything right here? Yep, this is it. We have a tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a pair of pants, two shirts, a pair of bike shorts, a helmet, a cook stove, a book & a toothbrush, toothpaste, & soap. That’s all you need. That’s all you need! Bye, you guys! Bye! Take care, thank you! Go, Urban Farming Guys!

When most of these little yellow flowers have fallen off or come off really easy, it’s ready to harvest. Alright, to harvest these sunflowers, the best way is if you were a trained ninja with a sword. But, today, we’re gonna try a little higher level of difficulty. We’ve got this, take this off here, &—aaahhh! What happened? What happened, Mom?

Now, we’re gonna knock off any of these little flowers if there’s any left. Titus, you wanna help? Yep. Yeah, knock these off. When they’re ready, these should come right off of here. We picked them a little too early last year & they were still good, but they were really hard to get off. & we got blisters on our thumbs by the time we got to about the 15th head. Titus, you wanna help Daddy? Yep. Help with those. Good job. So, you wanna take some of your bigger heads & save the seeds on those. This is just a medium-sized head; we’re gonna roast these up, soak them in some salt water, & season them up. Titus, you helping Daddy? Yep. Alright!

Here’s a separate batch; we’re gonna save. We didn’t cook these. We’re just laying them out to dry. We’re gonna put them in a dry place for a couple of weeks, then put them in a paper bag til we’re ready to plant them.

Okay. So, what you want to do is soak them in salt water. For every two quarts of water, use anywhere from a quarter to a half cup of salt. You kinda split the difference. You just let them soak overnight. Or, if you want to do them faster, you can actually do them at a low boil for a couple of hours on the stove & that will get the salt in the shells. Let them soak overnight & then in the morning, you can drain them & let them dry. Just spread them out on a towel or something. Let them dry & then you want to put them in the oven to roast them. Can you add some of your own flavors? Yes, we add the flavor beforehand…Or, you can roast them & add the flavor & a little bit of butter after. Awesome!

Alright, so spread them out on a cookie sheet. Put just a little bit of oil. We use some seasoning salt, some sea salt, & some garlic powder. Let the oil get a little bit on all of them. Stick them in the oven. You do low temperature, like 300, for a while. Just keep checking them every 20 minutes/half hour & see how they’re doing..When they seem pretty dried out & crisp, take them out. We’ll let you know how long these took.

Then, you pull them out of the oven when no one’s looking & you’ve got a tasty snack..You know they’re done when they’re nice & dry & you can hear them. We cooked these for about an hour at 300. You want them to pop when you crack them. That’s good!

  • http://melbrennan.com Melinda

    So you eat the shells as well?

  • cefarmer

    have yu tried to decapitate sunflowers to foment more flowers, try it when the plants reach the 4 ft more less pinch the main stem and secondary branches will grow and you can harvest 2 heads for you and the other 2 for the birds.. ok great idea…

  • Jera Cole-Hamilton

    Hey Jason…… I just wanted to say how AWESOME you all are doing!!! This is really neat what you and your family have put together so you can help others, and well….. make a differance. I have spent a lot of time this morning listening and watching video after video, and I want you and your wife to know that you guys are doing an amazing job. Not only are you both helping your own family, but helping other families across the country…… and probably further. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, and keep up the AWESOME work ! ! !

  • http://greentheo.scroggles.com Theo V

    I’ve been growing Giant Russian Sunflowers (not sure if they are the same as mammoth sunflowers) and they seem to have a much larger and sturdier stalk with a larger head as well. These sunflowers never fail to produce ooohs and aaaahs as they grow nearly 10 feet tall! Anyways, maybe it’s a variety worth trying out to avoid the extra dirt packing step.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alison-Grainger/750749059 Alison Grainger

    If the bags are upside down, the seeds will not be caught

  • Jechtech

    My Mammoth sunflowers are lovely but every year, same thing. No seeds, just shells. All the shells are empty. What causes this???

  • Ben Kaldwurse

    My sunflowers are ridiculous. About 12 – 13 feet high. And they curl over and bend way down. I didn’t know they would get this big. Some other folks got some that are only 5-6 feet tall. And they had flowers weeks before mine. Mine just starting to make seeds Nd we just had frost warning last night. This is the first and last time I grow these monstrosities. They are completely ridiculous. How could they possibly survive in the wild?

  • Jackie Gandy

    I would like an idea of when to plant them so they will be ready in the early fall for forage for animals.
    this is in the south, Alabama to be exact.
    thanks, J. G,