Harvesting sunflowers with Epuni and Koraunui School students

Today we harvested sunflowers in our garden at Epuni School. We had some lovely visitors from Koraunui School (in Stokes Valley) to help us and they harvested the ultimate Valentine’s Day sunflower – a beautiful flower full of pink seeds! Check out the photos below to see how we spent the morning in the garden.

These sunflowers round the edge of the garden have almost finished flowering and are nearly ready to harvest.

Seeds peeping through:

Julia dusts off some of the florets from the face of a sunflower, to show the seeds hiding underneath. Julia taught the students that “when a sunflower bows its head to the ground, it is ready to harvest. We leave some seed for the birds to eat and then save the rest so that we can plant them again later this year.”

Students looking at the fractal pattern in a seed head:

Dusting off the florets to reveal the glossy black seeds underneath.

Beautiful farmers with their sunflower fractal.

Our Epuni farmers harvested some sunflower heads too. Sunshiney!

This is a super special sunflower… grown in the middle of the garden. Take a close look at the colour of the seeds…

.. it’s a magical pink sunflower, harvested on Valentine’s Day xxx

Proud farmers showing their freshly-harvested seed head.

Check out the range of colours of sunflower seed – we harvested pink, white and black seeds today!

After the students had harvested the seeds from the garden, they joined Julia outside the Sunshine House (the gorgeous painted tent you can see in the background) and learned about all the different types of vegetable seeds in the garden.

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How are your sunflowers growing?

Tena koutou everyone! I can’t quite believe it’s nearly February already – January has just flown by. The Project Sunshine sunflowers in my garden are blooming beautifully so I thought I’d share a few photos with you. We’d like to start collecting photos of other Project Sunshine sunflowers growing in people’s gardens, so please email them to us at projectsunshineaotearoa@gmail.com or share a photo or two via FB and we’ll add them to our album.

These Giant Russians are growing out the front of my house. They didn’t grow very tall as the soil quality here isn’t great, but each plant has about 5 flower heads, which makes for an awesome display:

A Monarch butterfly feeding on a Giant Russian sunflower:

The Giant Russians in my garden out the back of the house grew much better, as they were planted in good soil with lots of compost, and are now over 10 feet tall! They have huge flower heads that the bumblebees love:

Another Monarch butterfly visitor:

As well as the Giant Russians, these ‘Evening Sun’ varieties popped up (in the foreground) – from the Project Sunshine ‘red’ blend I think. They’re a stunning variety as each plant is over 7 feet tall and has more than 10 flowerheads!

Here’s a bumblebee visiting a couple of ‘Evening Sun’ sunflowers. I love how the sunflowers have slightly different petal colours:

These red sunflowers are absolutely stunning too – I think these are the ‘Moulin Rouge’ variety. Like the ‘Evening Sun’ plants, these sunflowers are also about 7 feet tall and have 8-10 flower heads on each stalk:

A beautiful dark, velvety-red sunflower.

Sunflowers at Epuni School

A couple of weeks ago Catherine popped in to see how the sunflowers are growing in The Common Unity Project Aotearoa garden at Epuni School. Leila was working hard in the garden in very blustery weather. Despite all the Wellington wind this summer, the sunflowers still look amazing and there are many more buds to open. We put these photos up on Facebook, but thought we’d also share them here.

Beautiful flowers edging the garden:

Some of the Giant Russians in flower:

This is the centre of the mandala garden, with the bunting flapping in the wind:

Check out the size of this flower head – those are 7-year-old Olly’s hands holding it!

Some beautiful ‘Evening Sun’ flowering on the left. They have many flower heads per stem:

An Evening Sun flower in full bloom:

There are sunflowers dotted throughout the garden:

Can you spot our friend the bumble bee?

What’s the buzz

Here’s a little round-up about some of the sunflowery things that have been happening lately:

We’ve been excited to send several packets of seeds up the Kapiti Coast, thanks to Diane Turner. Diane works at Raumati South School and she sent us this ‘thank you’ photo from the children at the school. They have potted up our Giant Russian sunflower seeds and we love their beautiful seed markers! Diane has also kindly passed on many packets of seed to other schools and early childhood centres around the Kapiti Coast area, and we’re delighted to see a little trail of sunflowers work their way up the coast on our distribution map.

Diane also handed us some red ‘Evening Sun’ sunflower seeds as a koha from the children at Raumati South School. These seeds were initially gifted to the school garden by Kath Irvine of Edible Backyard. ‘Evening Sun’ seeds produce magnificent sunflowers in shades of burnt orange, red and yellow. The children saved the seeds from their flowers and are generously sharing some with us – we can’t wait to plant them and see how they bloom. Thanks again Diane for all of your wonderful sunflowery support!

Some packets of our seed are also winging their way down to Christchurch, to the Pallet Pavilion site in the Christchurch CBD. On this site, sunflowers will beautify the MakerCrate, a shipping container turned into a lab for 3D printing and children’s making workshops. Bridget, who is working with the MakerCrate project, is hoping to get students to plant the sunflower seeds in special planter boxes made out of rescued wood “to liven up the grey and the gravel that is everywhere at the moment.”

Locally, our friends at CommonSense Organics in Lower Hutt have a basket of our seed packets on their counter, and a little jar to collect donations. Please pop in and pick up a pack or two, then email us to let us know where the seeds have ended up – we’d love to hear from you!