Sunflowers: don't play well with others!

vfem

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thistlebloom said:
journey11 said:
I wonder on the part about composting them if the effect is worn off by then. Winter wheat also inhibits the growth of weeds by the same manner, but it is commonly used as a cover crop. Something to look into anyway...
I wonder about that also, but to be safe this years sunflower residue will go in the long term compost (that just means the big pile in the woods that I don't turn :p ). It seems that the leaves have more of an allelopathic effect than the other parts, stems were the least allelopathic.
But where I erred was in shredding the entire plants and tilling them in to my beds in the fall.
I think if you just grow them here and there in beds you wont get a buildup of the toxins.
But for sure keep them away from potatoes!
It's interesting also that apparently cukes can cause phytopthera blight in potatoes.
I have the greatest space in my garden devoted to potatoes, they are probably what I consider my most important crop, so this info was a real eye opener to me.
Thank you fo rthis information. I had put all my sunflowers into the compost this year, and as I grow my potatoes in buckets... I use fresh soil turned with my compost to start them. I also didn't have the best luck with bucket potatoes as I did the year before? This year I will probably buy bags dirt, and some of my liquid fertilzer I make from chicken and duck waste and not add in a layer of compost. I bet I'll get better results.

This year I may try a wall of sunflowers and morning glories in the new beds as a wind breaker. This sounds promising. I'm also going to have to rethink where I wanted to put the popcorn this year.
 

hoodat

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The alelopathic compounds the plants give off are organic and will normally break down in a compost pile so they should give you no problem if the stems are completely broken down.
 

vfem

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hoodat said:
The alelopathic compounds the plants give off are organic and will normally break down in a compost pile so they should give you no problem if the stems are completely broken down.
I would hope so, but I still see stems in there... I should have shredded them... but truth... I finished off the season late, I was rushing things and then we got the earliest snow and freeze NC has ever seen! :he

I am already so far behind when I normally am preparing for spring. :hide I am going to have to ask the farm down the road if they would do me the favor of tilling that 50'x20' plot for me. I'll never be able to get it down with the little tiller now. :hit
 

thistlebloom

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hoodat said:
The alelopathic compounds the plants give off are organic and will normally break down in a compost pile so they should give you no problem if the stems are completely broken down.
They will break down, of course. From what I understood as I read up on this is that they can take a few years to diminish in the soil, and,
boy, I really dosed my soil with a heavy load of it!
Maybe in a compost pile that is kept hot and turned often it would break down faster?
 

lesa

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This is such a fascinating subject. I don't put the stems in the compost pile- not because I knew anything about this- they just seemed too woody to me. I have a natural pile out in the woods that I put that kind of thing in. I suppose eventually they will rot, but I won't be waiting for them to! I will be very choosy about where I plant them this year!
 

journey11

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Those stems do take forever to break down it seems. I just toss everything in my working pile and sift out the big stuff if necessary. Wish I had a chipper!
 

thistlebloom

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Using the loppers on the stems and cutting them into about 6" pieces helps them decompose a bit quicker.
One really good thing that sunnys do is act as a trap crop for aphids, and I really saw that in action many years ago when my boys grew them around the chicken pen for shade. The backs of their leaves looked like a science fiction horror movie :sick !
They seem to be able to shrug off any damage the aphids do. The chickens loved the leaves, maybe because of all the extra protein!
The stems have the least amount of allelopathic compounds compared to the rest of the plant btw.
 

Luvsroses

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RustyDHart said:
I've found a great Sunflower combination planting that looks wonderful and works well together. Sunflowers and Morning Glorys.....I plant the Sunflowers about 10 days before I plant the Morning Glorys next to them in the same row(s)....the vines will slowly creep up the growing stocks of the Sunflowers like a natural trellis. Planting them at the same time will have Morning Glorys growing up and beyond the slower growing Sunflowers....The Sunflowers NEED the head start. The combo...big yellow heads with the blue flowers trailing up the green stocks and leaves is beautiful.... With the various colors of both flowers...the combinations are endless.... Give it a try!
Im doing this!!! thanks :D
 

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