As you are planning your garden, hidden away, pouring over your stash of newly arrived seed catalogs. You are staring at vegetables, flowers, fruits and all things “seeds”. Don’t even bother to deny it; I know how it is because I’m doing it, too. In fairness to you, if everyone would leave you alone with your obsession and not expect you make lunch or fold laundry, you wouldn’t have to resort to hiding.
Well, you’re among friends here and while you’re scribbling away at your seed list for the coming year, I would like to make a suggestion for something to try in your garden. Russian Mammoth sunflowers.
Sunflowers have their obvious delights but these ones we originally decided to try because of the fond memories I had of them from my time living in Russia as a missionary. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Russian mammoth sunflower, its huge head dangling over the side of a fence looking for all the world like it was trying to choke itself on the fence post.
A Russian mammoth sunflower is visually stunning not just for its size (they get to be about 8-10 feet and their head diameter can be over 12 inches), but because of its bright, happy color and large, umbrella-like leaves.
The stalks are a good 3-4 inches in diameter when the soil is good and we have to saw them down at the end of the season; they make great kindling, because they burn fast and hot when dried. Sometimes the heads get so large that the stalk begins to bend but quite often they grow up straight and tall and cut down into orderly shapes for your kindling pile.
We discovered upon growing them that, apart from beauty, Russian Mammoth sunflowers are practical additions to the homestead. In fact, they can produce over one thousand seeds per head, making them a great supplement for your backyard flock.
They do take up space, I’m not going to lie, but if you have it, I believe it will be space well used. When drying them, be extra sure to flip the heads repeatedly in order to avoid mildew.
Have you grown sunflowers before? Will you try a Russian mammoth sunflower in your garden? Be sure to pin this for later!
Tessa Zundel is the homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling mother of five small children and wife to one long suffering man. She currently lives on an acre in suburban Utah with several generations of her family. She is an advanced master gardener, slowly working on becoming a master herbalist and is the founder of the Salt Lake County Seed Swap. Most days you’ll find her hauling her good natured, adventuresome children around to learn about herbs, small farm livestock, fiber and other lost arts, whole foods and home education. There’s always something being tinctured, fermented, built or milked around here – just ask the long suffering man! To find out what her current project is, pop on over to Homestead Lady and join the fun!