Around The Farm: A Small Harvest…And A Surprise

The largest sunflower, a volunteer that defiantly sprouted from a seed that the chickens either missed or couldn’t reach because it bounced outside their run, has reached the point where it’s ready for harvest. While I’m always delighted to find these kinds of volunteers, I also discovered a surprise growing amidst the other sunflowers that I had intentionally planted. What kind of surprise? Read on to find out.

Each year, despite my aspirations to get raised garden beds in, I simply haven’t gotten around to this project. I’d like to think that other priorities have been obstacles have prevented me from getting to the gardening; regardless of the reasons they haven’t come to fruition, I do wish that the gardens were completed and full of growing plants. I love fresh fruit, herbs, flowers, and vegetables, and I know they’ll grow here because they consistently do, even when I don’t plant them.

Previously, the pigs planted melons that provided wonderful, refreshing fruit in the hottest part of summer. The melons just kept growing, and it was fascinating watching them transform from tiny green golf balls into the sun-baked yellow-tan globes they became in what seemed like a short time. While we enjoyed many of the melons, the pigs ate their share, too – it was only fair.

Sunflowers and oats have grown from scratch that chickens missed in their mobile tractors. The sunflowers were beautiful and cheery, and their presence was a delight for the senses. The oats were surprisingly sturdy, with plump green heads filled with ripening grain. It was amazing to feel like crops were growing here…without any effort on my part!

As I read what I’ve written so far, I sound like a lazy gardener. I do like plants that require minimal (or no) effort, but I’d also like to choose what plants grow and where they do so. The melons ended up in the middle of a pasture – where the pigs had been – and I had to build a fence around and tend to them where they were, rather than where it would have been optimal to have them be located. Still, some melons are better than none (which is how many we would have had if I’d been responsible for planting them that year).

So, once again, there are sunflowers. We harvested the volunteer this morning, and the head was the size of a dinner plate, packed with seeds. From one tiny, cast-off seed, so many!

I think I’ll save these seeds to plant next year. The other sunflowers are nearly ready to harvest, too, and I’ll toss some of the heads into the run for the chickens to enjoy.

There are no melons this year, but it was a nice surprise to find a couple of cornstalks hidden among the tall sunflowers. I guess I can say that I planted them (accidentally) by including some scratch grains with the sunflower seeds that I sowed near the chicken coop. The volunteer sunflower growing there prompted me to do it – it was, after all, growing well without any intervention, so why not dig a few holes nearby and toss in some black oil sunflower seeds (which happened to be mixed with scratch) and see what happened?

What happened was that the sunflowers grew…and so did a couple of kernels of corn. I wouldn’t have seen the corn without the silk catching my eye. When I looked closer, there was a cute little ear with silk spilling from the top.

Next to it, there was another, shorter, cornstalk with a tiny bit of silk coming from the top of a nascent ear.

If the corn makes it to maturity, we may each have an ear of corn to eat! 😄 It’s not much, but I didn’t expect to be growing corn this year. The diminutive size of the ears made me chuckle, but they’ve also strengthened my resolve to intentionally grow a garden next year.

Growing is magic, and who doesn’t need a little more magic (and healthy food!) in their lives?