The Heritage Garden at Steam Pump Ranch participated in the “One Seed Pima County” community project. Joyce Rychener cultivated the seeds of the Black Russian Sunflower this year’s chosen plant. Did you know that sunflowers can grow as much as 1 foot per day? The Black Russian Sunflower produces all black seeds that you frequently see in bird seed mix. The sunflower head can be as large as 18 inches. The yellow petals of the sunflower are a halo for hundreds of very tiny flowers that turn into seeds. This large plant (sometimes 12 feet tall) has multiple uses. The leaves can be used as cattle food and the stem fiber as paper. If need be, the dried stems can be a substitute for firewood! Since many birds can’t wait to feast on the scrumptious seeds, it’s best to protect them by covering the flower head with netting or cheesecloth.
Joyce is an experienced seed collector and gardener. Many of the heirloom plants in the Heritage Garden are the product of seeds that are, in seed life, several generations old. Thank you to Joyce for providing the lovely pictures and volunteering her time and effort at the Heritage Garden!