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Posted on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 : 6:24 a.m.

Home economics: planting sunflowers is a good investment

By Corinna Borden

Borden - drying sunflower head with seeds

After cutting down the head, you brush off the flowers, leaving the seed pods behind. The seeds will gradually dry on the head until they are black, at which point they can be removed and put into a paper bag.

Corinna Borden | Contributor

Sunflower sprouts are delicious, nutty, and full of flavor - you can sauté them with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, put them fresh in salad, or put them in a sandwich. You can make butter out of the seeds, eat them roasted and salted, or turn them into bird food. According to the National Sunflower Association, the sunflower market was valued at $450 million in 2009.

I just wish I didn’t have to wait 12 months to grow more after realizing the economic benefits of growing your own. I adore sunflower sprouts and I could have grown enough seeds to keep me in sprouts till next harvest, if I had only known.

It costs $3 for a serving of about 30 sprouts at the farmers market, or 10 cents per sprout.

One sunflower head, if you are growing a large one like the Mammoth varietal, can provide 200-400 seeds - which can all be sprouted. A packet of 20 Mammoth sunflower seeds costs $3.95. Each seed therefore costs about 20 cents.

Borden - sunflower head

Giant sunflower heads become top heavy with seeds at the end of the growing season.

Corinna Borden | Contributor

That one seed can grow to a giant sunflower head which can yield you around 300 seeds when you harvest it. You can sprout those seeds yourself, ending up with 300 sprouts, which at the market would cost you 10 cents per sprout, or $30.

Your 20 cents has become $30 worth of sprouts, with a little time, patience, and watering. Therefore, your profit from that one seed could be $29.80, a 14900% return.

That is an incredible return on your cost.

Living life with the seasons is a powerful antidote to the culture of immediate gratification, and for the most part I am content to wait. But sometimes, when I think of all of the sunflowers I could have grown this year, that it is going to take 12 months to get here again, had I only known about this in May, that I really love sunflower sprouts ... I am not content to wait.

Corinna wrote a book about many things, works with the Westside Farmers Market, and spoils her backyard chickens.



Thu, Oct 14, 2010 : 12:13 a.m.

Great incentives to grow mighty sunflower heads from the lowly - and inexpensive - sunflower seed; available to all of us through mail order or by growing our own and enjoying their beauty.