You will need
- Plant pots
- Permanent markers
- Access to water
- Sticky labels
- A4 paper
- Sticky tack
- Garden sunflower seeds
Prepare the pots
- The person leading the activity should make sure that there are enough materials and space for everyone to plant a sunflower.
- They could keep costs down by asking local garden centres or allotments if they can donate spare compost or soil.
Sow and grow
- The person leading the activity should give out the small plant pots, labels and marker pens. Each person should write their names on their label and stick it on the side of their pot.
- The person leading the activity should go around with some damp soil and fill each plant pot almost to the top. Each person should use their index finger to poke a hole in the middle of the soil.
- The person leading the activity should go around with the sunflower seeds and give one to each person. Everyone should put their seed into the hole in the soil and cover it over.
- The person leading the activity should go around with some water and pour a small amount on each plant. Everyone can then take their plant pots and put them on a windowsill or ledge where they’ll be out of the way. A spot that gets lots of sunlight is ideal for sunflowers.
- The sunflower seeds should come with instructions showing how often to water them on the packet. Small plants have small roots, so they should be watered close to the base of the plant. Each plant should have sprouted after two Plants should start to flower after eight weeks. Everyone should move their plants to the large plant pots when they become too big for the small ones. Remember to label these too!
- After between twelve and fourteen weeks, the heads of the sunflowers should go brown. When this happens, the person leading the activity should cut off each head with scissors or secateurs. They should then hang the sunflower heads somewhere dry.
- Everyone should check on their sunflower heads the following week. If they feel dry, they should take down their sunflower head and carefully brush off the seeds from the centre of the flower into a paper bag.
The group have looked after a sunflower plant as it grew. What was it like to take care of a plant? Did you start to care about the sunflower and feel proud when it sprouted and flowered? What were the rewards for looking after the plant? Was it worth the time you put in?
As a reward for their dedication, the sunflowers should have rewarded the group with handfuls of tasty seeds! What is it like to eat something that you grew? Did you take a seed to plant another sunflower? What do you think it would be like to grow all of your food in this way? Do you think you would be eating healthier as a result?
- Gardening and nature
Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.
Check for allergies before you begin. Make sure you have suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods.
Teach young people how to use cooking equipment safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Make sure it’s safe to use and follow manufacturers’ guidelines for use.