Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Growing Sunflowers in 5 Gallon Buckets #sunflowerchallenge2020

Last Year on Greens and Machines....
A challenge was issued... Nick's Allotment Diary challenged us on YouTube to grow the tallest possible sunflower. And so I accepted the challenge. And planted sunflowers.. and they grew only 3 feet tall in my container.. Now it's 2020 and Nick has once again issued the challenge. Let's get grow some sunflowers!
For this year's sunflower challenge (#sunflowerchallenge2020), Nick has listed the following categories:

1) Tallest Sunflower Grown in a Container
2) Sunflower with the largest head
3) Best Display of Sunflowers grown together

Good categories. For this year I'm for sure entering the Tallest Grown Sunflower in a container. And I guess I'll see how large the heads get. For comparison last year, the two largest sunflowers in my container garden grew 40" tall with a 3" head diameter. (101.6 cm tall and 7.62 cm head)
22 1/2" tall and had a 1" diameter head (57.2 cm tall and 2.54 cm head) respectively.
Well at the moment the blue bin I grew my sunflowers in last year is currently occupied, I'll be setting up a new container to grow them in. I saved this kitty litter container from a dumpstery fate, and I'll be using this to grow my sunflowers in. I've got a few of these 5 gallon kitty litter buckets already setup to grow peppers in the container garden, and I'll be setting these up identically to grow the sunflowers. Let's start drilling!
For drainage, this container needs some holes to allow water to drain. If water cannot escape the bucket, my sunflowers will get swamped!
I'm drilling about 16 holes all over the bottom of this bucket with a 1/4” drill bit. Should go quick, but remember to wear eye protection if you're attempting this.

Normally I'd put some stones in the bottom of a container like this for drainage, but I had run out of them setting up the net cups for the hydroponic garden, so we'll skip this.

Next I fill my container with soil. This bag looks like it got infested with worms... which is a good thing because the worm castings (their poop) is great fertilizer!
With the soil filled, now is the time to plant my seeds.
The variety I've been planting the last few years is called “Mammoth Russian”. This variety, in the right conditions, can grow up to 12 feet tall!
I have a lot of leftover seeds from the 2018 Sunflower harvest, but I also saved a handful from last year's 2 sunflowers. Let's plant both of them to see if they still germinate. On the left will be 2018 seeds and the right will be 2019 seeds. Should be interesting to see the results of this experiment.... and yes I did happen to toss in a bunch of seeds into both holes.
As a bonus, I picked up a new variety of sunflower seeds from the store to try growing. This variety is called Velvet Queen, which should make a darker flower. For now I'm planting these in a 1 gallon container until I can get a larger container to transplant them into (if they germinate!)

With the seeds planted and marked, the last thing to do is water them and wait...... We'll come back to this next week and if they germinate.
Not even 4 days later and I've begun to see activity in my 5 gallon bucket. Both years worth of sunflowers have germinated!
Wow all the seeds germinated! I'll be spending some time thinning these out..... when thinning it's recommended to cut the stalks at the base rather than pulling them out of the ground because that could disturb the roots of the plant you want to keep in the ground.
And once the sunflowers have been thinned, you have a delicious microgreen snack!
That's my start to #sunflowerchallenge2020. We'll check back in a few weeks to see where we are at.
I'd like to thank Nick's Allotment Diary for organizing this YouTube competition.
If you're interested in participating in this challenge, check out the link to Nick's Allotment Diary here.

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