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Featured Growing Russian Giant Sunflowers

Discussion in 'Obsessions and Interests' started by Major Tom, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    Hey all!

    I am so stoked about the gardening season already in progress and also coming up. I recently built two raised bed boxes from recycled wood. One for a heirloom tomato plant, sweet basil plants, 2 zucchini plants, 2 marigold plants, and a lavender plant. I THINK the tomato plant has sprouted already, but I won't know for sure until the plant develops more. At this stage it could be anything, but it did come in right where I planted the tomato seed.

    The second box I built was for strawberries, I planted 5 different kinds of strawberries (11 plants total) they are so happy in their new home and a few of them already started developing runners! I also had to create a sort of mesh tent for them to protect them from birds, but the main menace will be my son haha. I'm hoping it keeps him out, but you never know, he's a crafty guy!

    Anyways, coming to the main subject of this thread, another one of my special interests are birds, but where I am living you simply cannot find birdseed. So thinking outside of the box and knowing how much birds like sunflower seeds, I bought two packs of Russian Giant Sunflower seeds. I figured the bigger the better and the more seed for the birds. After buying the seeds, I asked around and did some research. It turns out that these sunflowers grow to a staggering height of 2.5-3 meters (up to 12 feet) and their heads can grow from between 12-15 inches in diameter (30.5cm-38cm) and weigh up to 20 pounds (9.1kg). This information blew my mind.

    I had tilled up a row and organically fertilized it, but if I plant them in that location they will totally shade out my strawberries in the morning and my tomato and other plants in the afternoon. So that location is obviously not going to work.

    I have a different idea about where to plant them, but my question is how would I secure them from the strong winds/ typhoons we get here? We get some absolutely wicked storms and just random gusts of winds, so strong that sometimes my house itself crackles (not joking).

    Does anyone have any ideas as to how to secure something so tall and heavy from extreme winds? I don't have a lot of money, but I do have ingenuity and will, also lots of scrap wood and rope. Also, any growing tips would be appreciated. I've grown other varieties of sunflowers (accidentally), but never these monsters.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
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  2. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    star picket 9 foot and a soft tie like old panty hose. makeshift wind fence?

    the overhead rail is a good idea. liking that.
     
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  3. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    ...and shallots (green onions/scallions) are really easy and perennial, you just buy a bunch with the roots on and stick em in the dirt, cut off just above the bulb when needed and they resprout. withstands cold pretty well.
     
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  4. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Wow these look great! I've lost some tomatoes and runner beans in the frost, despite covering them, I think some are less hardy, as I still have 6 varied tomato plants that have done fine.

    Everything else is doing ok, beetroot, lettuces, chard, broad beans, peas, strawberries. I will try to do photos later. They're just in gro bags and tubs. And lots of seeds in mini pots in the plastic upright greenhouse. Plus carrot babies and lettuce babies and another tomato I daren't plant yet in case he's less hardy.

    Then there's pumpkin squash seeds in a little cloche on the window sill.

    Gosh those sunflowers will be vast! But the wind sounds tricky. Is there a wall or fence you can grow them against? I've seen them done like that, in pots. One per pot. Or build them a trough? Some got really high, they had stakes, but perhaps could also be secured to the fence or wall, like @unperson says.
     
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  5. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    I'm toying with the idea of growing them in my back garden right up against the house, the wind almost always comes off the sea and that garden is on the opposite side of the house, so it should provide a good wind block and also shade out what I call our "garden room" so it would also somewhat climate control the house in the summer months. I could also secure the sunflowers to the roof somehow.

    The only problem with that is the soil in the back garden is pretty horrendous. I can always just transfer some from the front hugelculture garden to a row there though. I have plenty of good homemade soil. My garden should be very luscious, but my son is sort of like a goat and rips everything out in his path. I really should invest in some fencing, but I also don't want to keep him out of the garden, because it's one of his favorite places, so it's sort of a conundrum.

    I look forward to seeing what you have growing Thinx. I love seeing other peoples gardens and growing techniques. I've learned so much by observing what other people do. Not only with gardening, but all things in life. When you get a chance, upload some pics or PM some to me!

    Thanks for the advice!
     
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  6. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    Shallots would grow really well here. People grow all sorts of winter gardens despite our crazy snowfall amounts, it never really gets much below -4-5 degrees C. The main winter crops are onions, daikon radishes, and sugar peas (which winter and then during spring shoot up and give you a ton of awesome sweet peas).
     
  7. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    It's a pretty windy day today and I went and tested the strength of the wind in the front and then the back gardens. The wind was virtually non-existent in the back right against the house, so it looks like I will be building a trough back there and transferring soil from the front to the back and grow them there. That's where I want to feed the birds anyways, so even though it will require some extra effort, that's the route I'll be going! Thanks @Thinx for the idea!
     
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  8. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Good luck, sounds they'd have a good chance there. Sunflowers seem to vary how much they shoot up, perhaps you may get some lower, - but still with big heads of seed later on.

    We made a trough front and sides, but with earth base that we filled with soil and compost at my sister's, an L shape on 1 side and the back of her back garden with tall fences already behind it, and planted a native hedge in it. Blackthorn base 50%, & 10% each field maple, hawthorn, bird cherry, briar rose and hazel, so she'll get sloes, hazel nuts, and then haws, rose hips and cherries for the birds. And we put in a few hollies for winter green and an apple tree at one end. Then bulbs at the front, daffodils and narcissi.

    The hedge came as bare roots, in November last year, a guy from the nursery drove it to us personally, as the bird cherries were late and it didn't arrive the day before we were there to plant, she's fairly disabled so they went the extra miles for us. It's just starting to bud and leaf!
     
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  9. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    I love planning out how plants mature so that you can have a virtual ever-bearing crop and/or stunning visuals. That sounds like a marvelous setup!
     
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  10. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    My grandfather grew those giant sunflowers one season. These things had 6-inch diameter stalks,...we had to cut them down with a chainsaw,...no joke. These are not thin, spindly, stalks,...and don't need supports. We were eating dried sunflower seeds for 2 years afterward. :D Furthermore, and you may already be aware of this,...strong stalks have to do with strong cell walls,...and cell walls are primarily strengthened with calcium,...and to a lesser degree, silicon. With a plant that will grow quickly,...make sure you are supplementing with generous amounts of cal-mag and silicon.
     
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  11. Aneka

    Aneka Well-Known Member

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    Plant them in front of a wall. My grandfather had those sunflowers every year, they are really popular around here. Most will grow to be 2 m.
     
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  12. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    My uncle grew some and he said the stalks were between 4-5 inches. Seeing what the typhoons do to trees, they would harm the sunflowers when they were in full bloom if not secured.

    I have a bunch of crushed shells and will add a few bags in the trough. I'm going to try and create a microclimate with them on the south of my house I have a "garden room" with double paned glass and it becomes like an oven in summer. The sunflowers will shade it and allow us to open all the doors to allow airflow.

    I also plan on planting carrots, lettuce, radishes, and marigolds after the sunflowers I select get established. They will still catch enough sun at the base of the trough I think.

    From what you are saying, I'm going to have a lot of birdseed! Also maybe can munch some myself!
     
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  13. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Planting a windbreak might be useful if you're gonna be there long term, see what other people have planted as a windbreak, it probably works in the area.
     
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  14. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    That's definitely the plan! Thank you! I have a perfect spot for them!
     
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  15. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    I do have red Robin trees that serve as a windbreak for the front garden, but they were ravaged by a snowstorm we had in January. I had to cut them back a lot.
     
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  16. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    oh ok they get pretty big, people use them as big hedges. I used to live in a super windy place and most people use some kind of pine or fir tree, you see them everywhere in rural areas.
     
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  17. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    Yes, they are vigorous. I cut all the broken branches, this fall I'll probably cut them down to about a meter as they have a growth in both spring and fall. Very useful trees indeed.
     
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  18. Aneka

    Aneka Well-Known Member

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    Oh and I forgot: Bind them to a long bamboo stick as they grow.
     
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  19. Sapphire K

    Sapphire K Autistic Pansexual Enby! (they/them) V.I.P Member

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    Nice! I love looking at pretty flowers! They've always been a symbol of peace and calm for me. Please keep us posted on the flowers' growth, Tom.
     
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  20. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    I have a lot of work to do, but I surely will! I'm going to start building the bed tomorrow as long as the weather cooperates!

    I've always loved flowers too, and especially feeding birds!
     
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