Sunflower House|Space Gardening

 

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Building a sunflower house is an easy and rewarding project. The seeds of the giant varieties, when planted in a square or circle formation, create the perfect setting for a reading nook or gathering space!And don’t forget to leave a space for a door…

Supplies:

  • A packet of sunflower seeds – choose a tall variety like Mammoth or California Greystripe
  • Stakes
  • String or twine
  • A hoe
  • Compost for fertilizer

sunflower fort
Note: seeds should be planted after the last frost date in your area.

  1. In early spring, locate a suitable location with good soil, flat ground, and at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight during the growing season.
  2. Decide (with the help of your child) whether the sunflower house is going to be a square or a circle. Decide the shape of your sunflower house and decide how big you want it to be.
  3. Now that you have your site picked out and the shape chosen, stake off the agreed design in the chosen location.  Tie a string to one of the stakes and stretch it around the perimeter to designate the walls of the house – remember to leave an opening for the doorway, approximately two-feet wide.
  4. Remove any rocks, grass, and weeds from inside the perimeter – have your child help!  To make the “floor” of your house weed-free, place flattened layers of cardboard inside the marked area, then cover the cardboard with seedless straw or mulch.  Later you can plant a cover crop inside the house to form a comfortable “carpet”!  Using the string around the perimeter as your guide, use a hoe to clear the perimeter area.
  5. Use a trowel to dig a small hole, 1 inch deep, every foot along your market outline.  Have your child place two seeds in each hole, following the packet instructions.  Cover the seeds with loose soil.  If birds are a problem, cover the seeds with window screening secured with rocks while they are germinating.  Water seeds thoroughly.  When they sprout, remove the window screening.
  6. Fertilize the flower as they grow: you can use a blend of liquid kelp and fish emulsion.

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Optional:

  • Plant corn interspersed with the sunflowers.  This is a great example of companion planting!  The corn drives some varieties beetles away from the sunflowers, and the sunflowers in turn protect the corn from fall armyworms.  Choose any kind of corn you like, although multi-colored looks especially festive.
  • Plant a carpet of white clover inside the house to create a soft “carpet.”  Also consider planting some herbs like spearmint and chamomile inside and around the house to give off soothing aromas.
  • Alternate the tall sunflowers with a shorter variety so the children can better examine them
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