Right now Suzanne is feeling more like a “green horn” than a “green thumb.” Normally, sunflower seeds from the Mammoth Russian Sunflower are know for growing huge 8- to 14-inch heads, packed with seeds. Suzanne was hopeful that she could get them to grow in Dawson with enough time to go to seed. Facing a year without nuts, sunflower seeds were her hope for a local seed. And, in theory, if one grew enough perhaps some oil?
In her attempt to make sure they would have enough time to go to seed before the first Yukon frost, Suzanne made a rookie mistake and started them way too early (February 25th!) She started them in 2-litre milk jugs and potted them up into 5-gallon ice cream buckets when they started to get their flower heads, but it was already too late. With their small root system and skinny stems, they would only make small flower heads, not the mammoth flower heads they are capable of. And now they are already going to seed.
Started too early, the Mammoth Russian sunflowers did not reach the growth they needed to produce the large heads they’re known for.
Photos by Tess and Suzanne Crocker.
But there is still some hope. There a few just starting to flower so perhaps they will grow larger heads. A second batch of nine Mammoth Russian Sunflowers planted later might have a chance of going to seed. And a few are being re-started this week — in case the Fall frost is late this year.
Dawson gardeners: if you are growing sunflowers in your garden this year and they go to seed, let Suzanne know. She will join the birds and the squirrels in the Fall to collect them!