Project Sunshine 2014: new seeds to send out!

Our little farmers have worked hard this winter, and have started packaging up their latest batch of sunflower seeds! Check out their beautiful seed packets:

Here the children washed home-made dyes made from turmeric and beetroot onto paper, and then drew sunflowery illustrations overtop. Their artworks are delicate and very beautiful.

The little farmers have also been cutting up old magazines and making green-themed collages to accompany their sunflower seeds.

If you’d like a packet of sunflower seeds for planting in spring, please drop us a line at projectsunshineaotearoa(at)gmail(dot)com

 

 

 

 

How to harvest your sunflowers

When a sunflower bows its head to the ground, it is ready to harvest. The yellow petals around the edge of the sunflower will begin to wilt as well. This seems to be nature’s way of making any rain run right off the flower head (to stop the seeds from rotting) and also acts as a method of protecting the seeds from being eaten by birds (not that this stops them!)

We like to leave some seed for the birds to eat and then save the rest so that we can plant them again later in the year.

Once a sunflower has turned its face to the ground, you can dust off the florets off the face of the flower before you cut the sunflower head off the stalk.

Our Epuni farmers have been harvesting lots of seed heads recently. They cleanly cut the sunflower head off the stalk using secateurs. If it looks like there might be more flower heads that might still open on the stalk, they cut the flower head off carefully, so that these buds can still open and flower.

Once the flower heads have been cut they need to dry out, so that the seed can be safely stored over Winter. This is an important step so that they don’t rot over the winter period.

These sunflower heads have been drying in the sun for a couple of weeks, and are nearly ready to be stored. They make a lovely crunchy noise when they are handled, which lets us know that there’s not much moisture left in them.

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.

What’s the buzz

Sunshine Day at the Dowse on Sunday was so much fun! We spread our blankets under John Reynolds’ Titoki Gallery and helped visitors make sunshine necklaces, turn milk bottles into watering cans and paint seed packets. Lots of people had their faces and arms painted, coloured in our ‘how sunflowers grow’ page and drew their own bee designs on Project Sunshine stickers – then took home seeds and seedlings for a gold coin donation. You can check out more photos from the day here.

We also launched our special limited edition packs of red sunflower seeds. Each packet contains 12 red sunflower seeds – these plants grow tall like the Giant Russian variety and range from deep red to beautiful rusty-coloured petals. We’re selling these for $3 a packet, so please get in touch if you’d like some.

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We love hearing from people with updates about how their seeds are growing. Sam from Giant Pumpkins NZ shared us this awesome photo, along with his beautiful 4-legged friend in the background:

Jennifer in the Bay of Plenty has just finished planting out her sunflower seedlings – 47 in total. They’re going to look amazing once they’re fully-grown and flowering!

Our friend Shane sent us an update on the sunflowers that the Epuni School children planted at Carrara Park in Newtown. He says “Sunflowers and swan plants growing in Carrara Park, Newtown, not all survived but the ones that have are looking strong…thanks Kids and Julia Milne”

And Catherine headed along to see how the plants in Glover Park were doing – they’re just outside Radio Active in Wellington:

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Hataitai School in Wellington has set up their own Emerald Army gardening blog, and are encouraging every child in the school to “bring in their own reused planting box to grow their sunflower seedlings in – the wackier the better”. Check out their blog to see some of the awesome planters that have been brought in so far!

Doubtless Bay Kindergarten

Doubtless Bay Kindergarten in Northland also emailed us their blog, to let us know that their “seeds are cosy in their planter box and we are patiently waiting and watering!”

Sunshine Day at the Dowse – Sunday 24 November 2013

Hello lovely sunshiney people!

Come and celebrate sunflowers, our communities and bees with us this Sunday. Our Sunshine Day is at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt from 10.00 – 11.30am.

Our Sunshine Mobile is stacked with sunflower seeds and seedlings, which will be available to take home for a gold coin donation – including our special limited edition ‘mystery seeds‘.

If you bring along an empty milk bottle, we’ll show you how to make it into a handy watering can. You can also make your own beautiful bee sticker, string together an awesome Project Sunshine necklace, colour in a sunflower page, chalk up the pavement and take part in other fun craft activities.

If the weather is lovely we will stay on longer outside under the trees with art activities, picnic blankets and maybe even some cake!

We’d love to see you on Sunday, so please come and say hi 🙂

What’s the buzz

This week we made the ultimate Sunshine Mobile by upcycling an old BBQ table (cheers Andy!) Doesn’t it look cool?! We also posted out more packets of seeds and did some event planning – see below for more info.

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Keep Sunday 24 November, 10.00-11.30am, free for our special Sunshine Day at the Dowse, in Lower Hutt. Check out our world-famous Sunshine Mobile and take home some beautiful sunflower seeds or seedlings for a gold coin donation. Make your own bee sticker, or bring along an empty milk bottle and we’ll help you turn it into a watering can. There will be lots of fun craft activities too – we hope to see you there!

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A special tena koe to Tāne this week for decorating such beautiful sunflower seed packets for us. Love your bees Tāne!

Tane packets

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Here are two letters that we received from Manurewa Central School and Paremata Kindergarten asking for packets of seeds. Thanks for such colourful letters – we’ve posted your seed packets, so hopefully they arrive soon.

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