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can a sunflower befriend a long island cheese?

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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How allelopathic is sunflower? I want to plant it with cucurbita moschata, but I can't find info on whether they are friends. I have had great success with growing sunflowers with pole beans before.

I do notice that the places where the seed hulls have fallen heavily from the birdfeeder is pretty bare, but the areas where it was scattered more thinly are lush. Hulls are not the same as plant roots either.

Does anyone have experience with planting sunflowers and squash together?
 
Leila Rich
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People always talk about sunflower allelopathy, but I've never noticed. I think there'd need to be some pretty serious side-by-side experimentation to get anything like an accurate answer..
This season I had sunflowers in a 'three sisters' bed with pumpkins and drying corn/beans. Everything grew ok, not great. It was a terrible summer though...so many variables
 
Jordan Lowery
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i find it depends if you have a ton of sunflowers, or some of the giant hybrid ones. which take so much energy from the soil it affects nearby plants. other than that the smaller more colorful sunflowers never give me problems.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I did the three sisters too, using sunflowers instead of corn, and while the beans thrived, the squash never took off. At the time I blamed it on my having given the squash planting job to a couple of inexperienced volunteers and on the very variable weather that year (dry dry dry flood dry) Now I wonder.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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After doing some more research on this, I am revising my idea of interplanting. There are 200+ allelopathic compounds in sunflowers, some of which drip off of the leaves, inhibiting seed germination and reducing the vigor of surrounding plants. Also, these compounds stay in the soil after the sunflowers are long gone.

the answer that jumps out now is "Don't have too many"
It's true that I've grown many sunflowers in the past, but the only time I've grown a lot were the three sisters garden or when I filled a small garden in an old apartment yard with nothing but sunflower. Usually I just have a few here and there.

Another related question- since even the stalks are allelopathic, do people use them as mulch?

Also, I was reading some research fromt he middle east where farm researchers were using solutions of water that had sunflower plant parts soaked in it for herbicide/weed deterrent. Has anyone done this?
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 404
Location: Georgia
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There is a great deal of scratching an pecking going on under bird feeders. It could mean
nothing for it to be bare under a bird feeder. My bird feeder in the front yard is in a shaded area
and it is bare. In the back yard it is in the sun and it is lush.
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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Matu - It's been known for many years that sunflowers are excellent at drawing toxins from soils...

Many treat their sunflowers as cover crop and treat them like 'toxic waste' after maturation, disposing of them offsite.

I would not include them in a guild you intend to be productive in all facets. : )

Good luck out there -
 
Saybian Morgan
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Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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I'm not grasping the sunflower alleopathy, is this general to the helianthus or is this a specific type of sunflower? Jerusalem artichokes don't ravage the soil and they grow huge when they have the resources to and small when they don't. I can't find any ill effects this year where I had towering helianthus last year, but that's not sunflower's per se. Corn is a mean resource hog and it's what the 3 sisters is all about, I can't see a sunflower taking more than corn, but then again I don't grasp what long island cheese is.
 
George Lee
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Saybian Morgan wrote:I'm not grasping the sunflower alleopathy, is this general to the helianthus or is this a specific type of sunflower? Jerusalem artichokes don't ravage the soil and they grow huge when they have the resources to and small when they don't. I can't find any ill effects this year where I had towering helianthus last year, but that's not sunflower's per se. Corn is a mean resource hog and it's what the 3 sisters is all about, I can't see a sunflower taking more than corn, but then again I don't grasp what long island cheese is.

It's a pumpkin, bro.

 
Saybian Morgan
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Is that the look of cheese these days over there on the island, i'll stick to harlem government cheese for now but they do look like good pumpkins
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Long island cheese is a moschata variety of winter squash. Keeps longer than pepo pumpkins, more flavor and less watery. I am hoping its thick foliage will be competitive.
The thing with allelopathy is not so much that it competes for nutrients, but that it has phytotoxic compounds in it that inhibit growth.
Thanks so much for the "toxic waste sequestration" idea, that makes me feel better! I will revise my plan.
 
tel jetson
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I used to grow pumpkins (among other things) for a living. that includes C. pepo, C. moschata, and C. maxima. usually about fifteen acres each year. we started planting a few sunflowers in the pumpkin fields more for eye candy than anything else. it ended up improving the growth of the pumpkins.

during the middle of the day, the pumpkin leaves would always wilt, even if there was plenty of moisture in the dirt. we looked into it, and it turns out that the Cucurbita genus suffers from photosaturation. that is to say, if there's too much light hitting the leaves, they can't really take it and sort of shut down until the sun isn't so direct. so during the middle four or five hours of the day, they weren't photosynthesizing or growing at all.

when we added the sunflowers, though, they provided just a little bit of shade for the pumpkins. it was just enough to keep the pumpkins going strong right through the day without the wilting. so though they were getting less sun, they actually grew more. there weren't a lot of sunflowers. maybe one sunflower to five to ten pumpkin plants. and these were the big sunflowers.

so, I won't argue that sunflowers don't exude allelopathic substances, but in some cases they're still a good idea.

on the other hand, there's no reason it had to be sunflowers in with the pumpkins. they looked good, and folks liked them, and they're easy to grow. corn probably works just as well or better and is probably an easier crop for most folks to use. many other plants could fill the same role with different useful products.
 
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