Sunflower Tips and Tricks! +How our Growing Journey Began

As we are in the last term before the summer holidays I have been thinking about what activities we could be doing which are healthy, sustainable and nutritious. With the weather (hopefully) improving we will see temperatures adequate enough to begin growing sunflowers in the garden.

Depending on the variety, they can take 11-18 weeks to flower from seed sowing. It’s a good idea to sow sunflower seed every couple of weeks, so you’ll have a constant supply of cheerful sunflowers throughout summer.

You need a sunny, sheltered spot and a good soil – add plenty of well-rotted manure or garden compost before planting, if you can.

This is a great rewarding family activity and you can also harvest the seeds to eat if the insects don’t get there first! When I was a child I used to do this with my mum and little brother, every summer we would stand next to our Sunflower each week and take a photo to measure the progression in growth.

Top Tip: For your big sunflowers, use bamboo cane to help stabilise them whilst they grow to avoid snapping.

Loves: The sunshine, the hint is in the name.

Hates: Slugs and snails! You will need to plant outside once the Sunflower has grown to about a foot tall but best pop something in the garden to stop them getting snacked on.

Sunflowers seeds are extremely nutritious; naturally cholesterol free, gluten free, low in saturated fat and are a low glycaemic-index food.

They are good sources of fibre, full of antioxidants, phytosterols and heart healthy fats. They are high in plant protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, including; Vitamin E, B1, B6, Iron, Copper, Selenium, Manganese, Zinc & Potassium.

There are three types of commonly used sunflower seeds: linoleic, high oleic, and sunflower oil seeds. Each variety has its own unique levels of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

What including up to 30g of sunflower seeds in your diet each day could look like: Roast them in the oven and sprinkle over breakfast cereals, salads or soups to add texture. Salt them and munch on them for a small snack Add them to your smoothie mix and grind to give it some protein Put them in homemade pesto and breads or make your own protein snack bars

Photography by Sian Dorman at Hitchin Lavender Farm, Hertfordshire Aug 2019 (Yes they also have sunflowers at the Lavender fields!)

How our ‘Growing Green’ Journey Began…

Back in September of 2020 our Technician Mr Tao created x5 long window troughs from scrap wood that we had in the department. These can be seen in the images below.

In December 2020, the lovely Deborah Loads of the Finance Department helped us to successfully apply for the Savoy Educational Trust which helped us to purchase some key pieces of equipment that we are now using within the Design and Technology – Food and Nutrition KS3 & KS4 Curriculum.

Mid March 2021 Ms Speiler and the GCSE Year 10 Food & Nutrition Students began planting up some fruit, vegetable and herb seeds in some old recycled plastic containers that we had been collecting. The seeds planted include beetroot, squash, lettuce, radish, carrots, tomatoes… Here are a few photos from 18th March student planting day 1.

Late March 2021, we received our urban cultivator (a hydroponic indoor growing machine) and Bortollo installed it for us after the Easter break. We are very excited about using it during food lessons!

Just one week after planting our seedlings with the GCSE students this is the progress they have made!

During the 3rd Lockdown, whilst working from home, the Design & Technology Department supported the Gardening Club. We would love to hear about any gardening or growing you have been doing at home!   Email your photos to Mrs Barden or Ms Spieler

Here are some of Ms Spielers first attempts at growing garlic from a clove and Avocado from its centre seed.

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