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Sunflower houses

June 3, 2010
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere

I have just spent 11 days off of work and doing some traveling, enjoying the weather and trying to polish off the gardens at my home. I didn't get it done quite as quickly as I had hoped for but I have it at least 98 percent complete.

The one different project that I undertook this year is growing a sunflower house for the kids. I have many fellow gardeners who ask me how I keep my kids interested in the garden. I have one rule: make sure they have something that they are interested in planting in the garden. Apple trees for one, strawberry plants for another and raspberry plants for the third. This year, we will also have a small section of the garden for the kids where we planted a sunflower house.

It is pretty simple, and as it grows up, I will let you know the success or the failure of this project. So far, so good.

We took Mammoth sunflower seeds and mixed them up with smaller decorative sunflower seeds.

This way the taller sunflowers will make the walls and roof, while the smaller sunflowers fill in the middle part of the walls.

We also planted around the base; several types of small gourds as well as climbing flowers which are suppose to climb the sunflowers as they grow. In the front of the 8 foot-by-8 foot area that we planted, we left a small space for the door of the house. On either side of the door, we planted flower seeds, dill and some other herbs for attracting butterflies and, of course, scent.

We also mixed in some carrot seeds, for snacking on. As the sunflowers grow, we will be wrapping the mid portion of the sunflowers with string and pulling them over to form the roof. Never the less, the kids are really exciting about trying this project.

We have apple trees on one side of the sunflower house and on the other we have the raspberry plants. We have pumpkins and gourds that are planted on either side which should grow up and be used to protect the area.

There are some who will even go as far as planting chamomile, grass or thyme for the floor. I didn't go that far since the ground where we planted the sunflower house is pretty well mulched. I am hoping that we have planted this house in a well protected area so that once we can pull the sunflowers over for the roof; the wind doesn't pull the house down.

I am assuming at this point that all we will need to do is to keep watering, weeding and waiting.

The kids are excited because they did the work. I only made the suggestion. They prepped the area, laid out the square and did the planting. Now, it is part of our evening walk to see what is growing where and what needs attention every night.

For more information about gardening, you can reach me at



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