We like to grow sunflowers around the farm. Sunflowers are easy to grow and attract pollinating bees to our garden. This year, we intercropped sunflowers and squash in the same growing area. The sunflowers stand tall in this 5 feet by 16 feet garden shown in the picture here. The squash plants are growing beneath the sunflowers to provide weed control and to shade the soil with leaves to keep it cool and moist.
This little garden was created a few years back. The bank by the spring house had become overgrown with burdocks and briars. So, I cleared the area with grub hoe and shovel. This work resulted in a cleared area with loosen soil. The area received a good amount of sunlight, so we decided to make into a garden. We thought that it’s certainly better as a garden than a weed patch and will be more productive than lawn. We were right, as it has become a great garden for us.
For our little spring house garden, we selected the Russian Mammoth “A beautiful giant” that can grow as tall as 14 feet with colossal flowers over a foot across. The ones shown here have grown to be 8 feet tall. The squash plants are an Early Prolific Straightneck and have begun yielding quite nicely. The sunflower seeds are edible, too and can be harvested in the fall when the heads are mature and full. We will have to share some with birds competing with us to get a taste of the seeds.
We planted about one dozen sunflower seeds on May 31, 2011. After the sunflowers had grown to about twelve inches high (three weeks later), we sowed 4 grams (small packet) of squash seeds around the sunflowers in a grid pattern about 12 inches apart and about an inch under the soil. We incorporated dry fertilizer: 1# of Fertrell Super N at first planting.
Sunflower seed source: American Meadows, Williston, VT
Squash seed source: Page’s Seeds, Greene, NY