Potager Pic & Sunflower Question

aubadeMarch 18, 2009

Hi all. I am a newbie gardener who just started a little all-edible garden last spring in my 40x40 backyard. I've attached a pic- I think it is a potager, since it is veggies and flowers. This year I'm planning on expanding it a lot more- already added two new large raised beds last Saturday.

Anyhow, as you can see in the back I planted a bunch of heirloom Velvet Queen Sunflowers along the fence behind my herb garden. I loved them, and want to grow them again this year. However, I read that sunflowers really suck the soil of nutrients and it is important not to plant them in the same place two years in a row. I have such a small backyard (and a dog) so I can't figure out anywhere else to plant them.

Will it really be a problem to plant them in the same place each year if I fertilize it well? (unfortunately my compost pile isn't done yet, so I'd probably fertilize with compost tea and cottonseed meal)

Here is a link that might be useful:

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memo(Zone 4B Nebraska)

Aubabe, It is true that sunflowers will deplete the soil of nutrients. Alfalfa is a member of the clover family which is know to replace nitrogen. Alfalfa has pretty purple flowers on it & attracts pollinating bees. You'll need to trim the flowers back before they set seed. Lay the cuttings out to dry and use them to make a rich tea fertilizer with, then compost them. You can plant your sunflowers right through the alfalfa (the cover will help retain soil moisture too) so you can replant in the same spot year after year. Alfalfa is perennial and lasts for about 6-8 years. You can go to any small town elevator and ask to buy a handful of alfalfa seed, after they're done teasing you about what you're going to do with it, they'll likely give it to you for free. One warning...Be sure you only plant the alfalfa where you really really want it. Once it is planted, it's impossible to pull out. At least it's pretty though! Good Luck!


    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:40PM
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You have a lovely little garden! I hope you'll post again when you have the new beds producing!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 9:41AM
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Adorable garden.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 11:55AM
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Very Pretty Yard.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 8:08PM
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Thanks all!

Turns out I found a new place along the fence to grow the sunflowers. At least for this year, guess I'll have to try to find a new place next summer but for now, here goes...

I also bought some seeds to try hollyhock creme de cassis where the sunflowers were last year.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 12:54PM
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Oh good, here is this thread. I'm about to plant my sunflowers and was looking for it.

The new place I'm thinking of putting them is actually inside the holes of big cinder blocks along a fence. I filled the holes with soil last week.

Has anyone ever tried growing flowers out of cinder block holes? I've read it works, but never tried it myself.

I also have some alfalfa seeds I bought for sprouting (to eat) so I think I will try putting the alfalfa in the blocks in late summer after the sunflowers have grown.

Any thought on whether or not this will work?

And btw, I pre-soaked holyhock seeds for 24 hours, planted them in seed trays on Saturday and already they are sprouting! I can't wait for the whole garden to be in full bloom this year!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:45PM
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Oh and memo, if you happen to read this again - how do you make compost tea from the alfalfa cuttings once you have dried them? Do you just soak them in water?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:48PM
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diggity_ma(5 MA)

Cute potager!

Sunflowers are pigs, but note that they are also allelopathic, which means that they will stunt the growth of other plants growing near them. Now don't panic... my experience has been that they are only mildly antisocial. I've planted many other things fairly close to sunflowers and not had a problem. Just to be on the safe side though, add an extra 6 inches or so to the distance from the sunflowers to the nearest other plant.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 12:31PM
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I'm not MeMo, but here is a terrific instuctable on how to create your own liquid green fertilizer that I've found.


Also, I have found that Cosmos do extremely well with sunflowers. Your garden is beautiful, thanks for sharing the photo.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 9:21AM
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