Russian Mammoth Sunflowers and Carrots

I had two new residents in my vegetable garden this year. The first one was something I seeded, expecting something else, much smaller in size. The second one, we got from our neighbors because they didn’t have the space to plant everything they grew for their science project.

This is the flowers of one of the “seven” Russian “Mammoth” Sunflowers I seeded in May. They grew as tall as 9 feet. For a while I was worried because they were only growing tall, like Jack’s beanstalk but the head of the flowers weren’t coming out. Eventually they did and the seeds matured, right about last week.

The squirrels acted before we could cut the heads off and ate the seeds of a whole one and half of another. I saw one, sitting on top of the flower, splitting the shell, eating inside and trhowing the empty sehlls down. The lawn was a mess with emtpy shells. Only 3 flowers had edible seeds anyway. The others, either fell down or stopped growing.

My husband took the seeds off the flower. Roasted half of them plain. The rest, he soaked them in salty water overnight before roasting.

They turned out pretty good. The shells are rather harder than the ones we’re used to. The seeds are delicious but small compared to their shells.

These are the first batch of carrots we got. When our neighbors gave them to us, I planted them in bunches out of their seed starter trays. They seemed too fragile to separate. Then about 1-1.5 months later, I though I could thin them out. But the ones I replanted died.

These guys, who stayed in bunches, grew, obviously were not very comfortable. They are out of shape yet tasty. I will look for a regular sized sunflowers next year and I will definitely try the carrots again. I have to educate myself, on how to properly plant them.

We named this little guy I found on top of the carrots Heimlich (ref: Bug’s Life). His colors were so amazing. He was eating leaves as if there were no tomorrow. Well, maybe there weren’t, for him. We wondered whether he would build a cocoon and turn into a butterfly but we let him go not to jeopardize his life.

And this is Hopper. There were bunch of them in the backyard. I was picking basil leaves and used the container I had to trap him. I caught him to show it to my son, who loves bugs. He loved both the caterpillar and grasshopper too much. Unfortunately, he became really sad (even distraught) when we let them go. I decided I will not be collecting any bugs anymore.

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