Each summer I grow sunflowers.
In the past I have grown them for their beauty mostly as a cut flower and to brighten the patch.
But here at Highfield they have multiple purposes. In this hot summer climate, they provide shade for other crops in the patch.
The spent heads will be given to the chooks for them to pick on.
When the plants have faded I will do what I always do and dig them in as a bulky green manure. I find that they break down surprisingly quickly.
This sunflower, this big single flowering yellow one, came to the patch ( I'm guessing) from the chicken seed mix in the chook house litter I use to mulch the beds - a seed that escaped the chickens' beaks perhaps. It certainly isn't a variety I had planted, I usually plant seeds of the darker toned flowers and the ones that produce multiple flowers per plant.
But I love the idea that this plant has come from the chooks and will go back to the chooks.
Right now it is offering a little shade to the corn patch and I am hoping that the bean seeds recently planted will use it as a climbing frame too.
I am really enjoying the challenge of thinking out multiple purposes for everything we do. The sunflowers are a great example.