Friday, June 17, 2011

Sea of Sunflowers: A Tip

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.

I have a thing for yellow flowers. I especially like sunflowers. Did you know their heads actually follow the sun as it moves across the sky during the course of the day. As if that's not exciting enough, they attract birds (and sometimes squirrels) and if you are a person of dedication, or a child, you can sit there for an hour popping the seeds open once they're ripe and it makes for a lovely morning. Admittedly, I prefer watching my kids and the birds go at them than doing this myself. I guess I've gotten too grown-up and efficient, or at least efficient-wanna-be.

Sunflowers can make a quick summer border. And if you've got space for a little sunflower patch, they're really really beautiful. They're also super easy to grow--just loosen up the dirt, throw the seeds on it, and smooth and pat them in. However, if you're planting a lot of them, it can get expensive. The little seed packets usually cost at least $1. Instead, head on over to a store like Rural King that sells bulk seeds--seeds which you use to fill your bird feeders. A handful of these cost only a few pennies (if that). You can now afford to share a few with the snails.

And speaking of snails: If they really are a problem--eating your sunflower seedlings or your strawberries or your zinnia, I crush eggshells and make an eggshell border around my plants. It works very well for me--the snails don't like sliming their way over the sharp shells. And by the end of summer the remaining shells are as good as compost.

So go buy yourself a handful of seeds and throw them into that abandoned spot in your garden. Or that ugly place that's always bare next to your AC unit. Or the corner of your yard that depresses you. Or, heck, if you've been too busy to get a garden in at all yet this year, have a little fun and just spread it with sunflower seed. It'll give you and the birds something to smile about.

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