The kitchen table had been obscured by huge mature sunflower heads for a week. I had had some nice help getting the seeds out of the flower head a few days prior, but it was using individually creative and time consuming methods. If I was to continue the process myself, I needed to be faster or it would take a few weeks. I had read up on methods for dislodging the seeds. It was supposed to be easy. All methods were supposed to just encourage the seeds to fall out of the flower. From the way it was presented in the books and websites, I would quickly end up with this lovely pile of seeds, ready to be roasted. Either they live in an alternate universe or I’m not reading the invisible ink.
Even though the flowers had been drooping greatly for a few weeks, even though the backs of the sunflower heads were either banana yellow or brown, and even though the yellow petals were no longer present and the seeds had been falling out when I was cutting the heads down, getting the rest of the seeds out of their compartments was not easy. The seeds in all their plumpness might as well have been holding hands, trying to not let me break through the formation! I was wearing some leather garden gloves to protect my hands, since some of the flower parts can be quite sharp at this stage. Rubbing, bending, picking proceeded though, because I grew these and I was going to get the seeds out!
Some of the flower heads were so stiff that it was quite a bit of work to bend them just a little to get some leverage between seeds. When I finally did, seeds went flying across the floor. I tried holding the seeds facing the table top, but it was hard to get an angle on pushing the seeds loose this way. Also, I didn’t get just seeds. The various other parts of the flower head would start to break apart. I saw places inside a sunflower head that are not pretty.
A couple of the flower heads had begun to mold slightly on the foliage side. They had been kept in an airy place, spread out so that they could dry. It didn’t appear to have affected the seeds, but it was unpleasant to have semi-soggy pieces of flower head fall apart in my hands, even if I did have gloves on. This foamy, mushroomy substance is now mixed with some of my seeds as they are spread out to dry on the paper on the table. I may be crazy, but I’m not ready to pick it all out by hand.
I haven’t even mentioned the bugs that were still living in the flowers. More earwigs, a few small spiders. After a while, I began to feel things crawl up my pant leg. My motto is smash first and ask questions later. I am not the sort of person you want to sneak up on “for fun.”
I began my sunflower seed separation mid morning. I took a few breaks, but the seeds were all out by dinner time. When my sunflower eating husband got home, I asked him if he will be able to eat all of those. He said, yes, but no more than that, please. He offered me more suggestions about how to separate the debris from the seeds without losing my mind. He hates it when I lose my mind…
There may be close to 3 gallons of seeds. Well, maybe 2 gallons after I get all the debris removed. All from one row of sunflowers that I was disappointed with the sprouting of in the spring. The flowers were only supposed to grow to 5-6 feet, but they grew to nearly 10 or 12. I wonder if the flower heads were supposed to be this large. I wonder if my guardian angel saw my frustration in the spring and spoke a few words to the boss on my behalf. I won’t complain. Abundance is always preferable. If anyone wants some seeds to grow some sunflowers that look like they are belong in the tropics of a lost world paradise, let me know.
(Tune in next week when I experiment with methods for cleaning out the debris!)