• Aliya

How We Grew a 10-Foot Sunflower


Not my sunflower, but she sure is pretty


Spending so much time at home inspired me to start putting seeds in the ground. I’ve tried mostly everything: fruits, vegetables, flowers, succulents, herbs, and more. Most have not worked out. Either the eagerly-awaited sprout never manages to make its debut, or it does, only to be ravaged by garden slugs within days. For that reason, the majority of gardening happens in pots on our concrete patio, and not in the soil.


My daughter also caught the gardening bug for a bit. And for a kid, what’s more fun than digging a hole in the dirt, putting a seed in the hole, and waiting for it to grow? So together, we planted six or seven sunflower seeds, just for the heck of it.


Probably about a week and a half later, I spotted a little sprout and couldn’t even remember what it was. A bell pepper plant? Sunflower? I soon noticed three more and was excited about the possibility of finally having a real garden.


Within the next two days, slugs and snails had eaten all but one of the sprouts. I complained to my mom about my green-thumb struggles and she handed me a bag of coffee grounds and egg shells, advising me to surround my lonely sprout with them to keep the bugs away. And it worked!



I surrounded my sprout with egg shells, coffee grinds, and wood chips.


That sprout grew and grew until it became clear that it was going to be a sunflower – and a BIG one. About a month or so later, it was tall and strong, but still without the blossomed sunflower. We watered it sparingly daily to keep it quenched in the summer heat.



Extra credit if you can spot another sunflower sprout in the background!


By the time the sunflower came out, the plant was about 10 feet tall and had a stem the size of a small tree. That thing was sturdy! We were in awe of our ginormous sunflower and if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, would have considered trying to enter it into a county fair.



LOOK. AT. THIS. THING. For reference, that gate in the background is about 5-feet tall.


It was a sad day when the head started to droop, but we knew there was a silver lining on the way: sunflower seeds. When the petals began to drop and shrivel, we cut down the plant (no easy task) and harvested the seeds.



My daughter and I had a blast harvesting the seeds.


I used this recipe, and they turned out deliciously.


Looking at our huge sunflower every day reminded me of Tupac’s book of poetry: The Rose That Grew From Concrete. Our soil may not be concrete, but it sure is close. And the fact that this amazing plant grew and thrived when nothing else would, was one of the best things to happen in this difficult summer.


Off to plant more!


Have you been gardening at all during quarantine?


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"The rose is without an explanation. She blooms, because she blooms."

- Angelus Silesius

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