How to harvest sunflower seeds – for planting, eating and feeding wildlife

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Learning however to harvest sunflower seeds is simply a applicable and enjoyable accomplishment to master, whether you program to snack connected your homegrown bounty oregon works caller seeds for adjacent year.

If you person learned how to turn sunflowers for the intent of harvesting the seeds, past determination are a fewer cardinal rules you indispensable follow. 

However, arsenic they are among the astir charismatic summertime flowers – and captious flowers that pull bees – it’s important to bask them successful your plot too.

‘Nothing says summertime similar the agleam sunny look of a sunflower, which makes them 1 of the astir fashionable genera of flowers to turn successful immoderate garden,’ says Gail Pabst from the National Garden Bureau.

Harvesting sunflower seeds extends the enjoyment of these plot icons, and has galore benefits.

‘You tin harvest sunflower seeds to devour them arsenic good arsenic prevention them to works successful your plot adjacent year. You tin besides usage them to provender birds and different wildlife done the winter,’ says Amy Andrychowicz, gardening author, and laminitis of Get Busy Gardening.

‘It’s easy, frugal, and you tin bash it again twelvemonth aft year, truthful you’ll ne'er person to bargain the seeds again.’

Make definite you cognize when to works sunflower seeds successful your country to springiness you the champion accidental of success.

How to harvest sunflower seeds for planting oregon food

‘Regardless of whether you program to harvest sunflower seeds to devour oregon to prevention them for planting, the steps for gathering them are the same,’ says Andrychowicz.

Follow this step-by-step adept usher connected however to harvest sunflower seeds and, travel the extremity of summer, you volition person a bounty of seeds to works oregon enjoy.

Sunflower seeds successful  bowl

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Choose the close sunflower for harvesting

Not each types of sunflower are perfect for harvesting sunflower seeds – especially if you privation to usage the seeds for food.

‘There are pollenless and pollinating types of sunflowers. Pollenless varieties are mostly grown for chopped flowers only, portion pollinating sunflower seeds nutrient lipid seeds and striped seeds,’ explains Lonnie Decker, workplace manager for Blake Farms successful Michigan.

‘Oil seeds are champion utilized for vertebrate effect oregon to nutrient sunflower oil. While lipid seeds tin beryllium eaten, radical usually devour the striped sunflower seeds.’

‘To harvest sunflower seeds, it is champion to turn sunflowers that person been bred to nutrient large, edible seeds that are large for snacking,’ adds Pabst. ‘Good varieties see Feed the Birds, Mongolian Giant, Skyscraper, Super Snack Mix, and Titan.’

2. Nurture your sunflowers

Get your sunflowers disconnected to a bully commencement by planting them successful fertile soil. Keep connected apical of weeds and pests specified arsenic snails and slugs, which could ruin your crop.

‘Sunflowers volition turn successful immoderate ungraded benignant – nonstop sow effect into the crushed starting precocious May done to the extremity of July,’ says Decker. ‘Plant 1-2 inches heavy into the ground, a ft apart.  They are 1 of easiest things to turn and nutrient beauteous flowers.’

If harvesting sunflower seeds for eating, you whitethorn request to support the seeds from birds. ‘Tie a insubstantial container implicit the blooms successful the garden, oregon you tin chopped the stalks earlier they are acceptable and bent them indoors to dry,’ says Pabst.

You could alternatively screen them with mesh.

3. How bash I cognize erstwhile sunflower seeds are acceptable to harvest?

With immoderate proceedings and error, it’s casual to spot erstwhile sunflower seeds are acceptable to harvest.

‘You’ll cognize your sunflower seeds are acceptable to harvest erstwhile the angiosperm has turned brown, the seeds are plump, and they travel retired easy erstwhile you wiggle them,’ says Andrychowicz.

If you privation to beryllium perfectly definite that the seeds are ready, travel this proposal from Decker:

‘Tie a insubstantial container implicit the angiosperm head, chopped the stem 12-18 inches beneath the head, and bent the stem upside down for astatine slightest 5 days,’ she says. 

‘When seeds commencement falling retired of the caput easily, they are acceptable for storing oregon eating.’

Close up   of yellowish  and orangish  sunflower

(Image credit: RHS)

4. How to cod sunflower seeds

Once the seeds are ready, you volition request to region the sunflowers from the plot truthful you tin statesman harvesting them. 

‘The easiest mode to cod the seeds is to chopped the angiosperm disconnected the stem, and bring it inside,’ says Andrychowicz. 

Firstly you request to region the chaff (spent interior flowers and outer petals). ‘The chaff whitethorn driblet disconnected connected its own, oregon you mightiness request to prime oregon hitch it disconnected to exposure the seeds.’

Mature sunflower seeds volition travel retired of the angiosperm easy erstwhile you firmly hitch your fingers implicit them – simply spot a vessel beneath to seizure them arsenic they drop.

‘If the seeds don’t autumn retired easily, that means they request much clip to mature,’ adds Andrychowicz. ‘In that case, let the angiosperm to adust retired longer, and cheque connected them again successful a fewer days.’

5. How to adust sunflower seeds

If you privation to prevention your sunflower seeds for aboriginal use, past you’ll request to adust them. 

‘When collecting effect the astir important happening to retrieve is the dryer the better. If your effect is not adust capable you tally the hazard of your seeds becoming moldy,’ says Decker.

Once you person harvested the seeds, rinse them successful a colander and past prime retired the debris to cleanable them.

‘Line a shallow container oregon instrumentality with newspapers and insubstantial towels, and spot the seeds successful a azygous furniture connected the insubstantial to dry,' says Pabst. 'Be definite to permission abstraction betwixt each seed, and fto them adust wholly – this tin instrumentality 1 oregon 2 days.’

When the seeds are ready, store them successful an airtight instrumentality successful a cool, adust spot.

6. How bash I prevention sunflower seeds for adjacent year?

One of the cardinal benefits of learning however to harvest sunflower seeds is to prevention them for adjacent year's planting. To bash this, you volition request to adust them retired and store them properly.

‘Once they are wholly dry, spot them successful a insubstantial container oregon jar, and store them successful a dark, cool, and adust determination until you're acceptable to works them successful the spring,’ says Andrychowicz.

Make definite you statement the seeds truthful you retrieve what they are.

Alternatively, if you privation to devour the seeds and amended their shelf-life by respective months, you tin brackish and roast them. 

‘If you fishy pests, freezing your sunflower seeds volition termination disconnected immoderate eggs that whitethorn beryllium lurking successful the shells,’ says Kate Russell, gardening writer and proprietor of The Daily Garden. ‘Sunflower seeds stored successful the refrigerator oregon freezer are bully for a year.’

7. How to region sunflower effect shells

Before eating sunflower seeds, it's champion to region the shells, arsenic they are indigestible. If conscionable grazing, you tin region them arsenic you eat; otherwise, you tin process the full batch successful 1 go.

First, you'll request to interruption up the shell. You tin bash this with a pestle and mortar, by putting the seeds successful a integrative container and rolling implicit them with a rolling pin, oregon utilizing an electrical mixer.

Once you person breached up the outer shell, spot the seeds into a ample vessel and capable with water. Stir good to assistance abstracted the seeds and shells.

The husks should emergence to the apical – use a slotted spoon to region them.

Finally, rinse your sunflower seeds successful a sieve oregon colander.