Heliotropism and the Sunflower
Botanical Name of Sunflowers
Helianthus annuus is the botanical name of the sunflower.
The seeds are black or striped grey and white. The seeds make a good natural dye, giving a blue, black colour. Oil is extracted from sunflower seeds for culinary use and the left-over cakes are fed to livestock
Every morning, when the sun comes up, with a face that is turned toward the sun, and every evening when the sun goes down, a face is turned toward the sun. This movement is known as heliotropism, though wild sunflowers do not exhibit this habit. The ever-beautiful sunflower, with her spiral-patterned seed and sunshine yellow petals are a pleasure to behold. One of the easiest crops of the summer, the sunflower can grow twice as tall as a tall man, (up to three meters), given the right growing space.
It is a pleasure to watch the sunflower’s first leaves pop out of the ground. You can scatter the seed, cover them with a layer of compost and then thin them out or plant them in between the maize or in rows on their own. They make a good green manure crop, feeding the soil. You can leave them to grow, and just before they flower, you can cut the extra ones down for green manure.
Sunflowers Companions and Antagonists
Sunflowers grow tall and peas can use them as trellises if grown close by. Plant the peas in after the sunflowers have established themselves and are 25 cm tall.
The sunflower does not enjoy the company of beans and potatoes.
Sunflowers nutritional value
Sunflowers contain Vitamin B’s and E, Phosphorous and Iodine.
Vitamin E heals scars.
Cooking with Sunflowers
. Helianthus seeds make an exceptionally nutritious snack.
Sunflower sprouts are delicious, you can grow yours in a tray of soil outside the kitchen door then cut the tops off and add them to salads. Replant every two weeks, so you are assured of a continuous fresh supply. Fried shelled sunflower seeds give great flavour to almost any dish.
Sunflower seed salad
2 handfuls of shelled sunflower seeds
Fresh parsley and fennel
Lemon juice or vinegar
Lightly fry the sunflower seed, till they are slightly brown. Allow to cool. Prepare the rest of the ingredients by chopping them up and placing them in a bowl. Add the cooled sunflower seed and sprinkle with lemon juice or vinegar and oil. A simple feast for a spring day.
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