• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Sunflowers and Cucumbers  RSS feed

 
Angela Brown
Posts: 41
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a spot in a community garden this year and I have for the most part chosen the plants that I want to use this summer. I have chosen carrots, tomatoes, bush beans and lunch box peppers. I am a first time gardner and I really don't want to fail so I am really trying to keep it simple. But I got to thinking last night about sunflower seeds and cucumbers. Is it possible to plant them together so the sunflower acts as a trellis? Are there timing issues with planting? Am I doing too much? lol Thanks in advance for any advice.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
110
bee books chicken duck goat trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haven't done it; the inter webs says you can, let the sunflowers get 12" high before planting the cukes. I say go for it! My sunflower stalks are certainly sturdy enough at the end of the season. If it's a windy area, I might plant the sunflowers in a circle on the north side of the plot, that way I could tie them together for mutual support if needed as the season went on. Plant the seeds maybe a foot apart.

Look at it this way, if you try a bunch of stuff, something is bound to work.
 
Angela Brown
Posts: 41
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I swear this is so much fun! lol
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 477
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sunflower seeds germinate at a lower temperature than cucumber seeds. A simple guide is to plant the cucumber seeds when the sunflowers are about 12 inches high.
 
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
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I find that cucumbers tend to like to twine around thin things, so I could see them twining around the leaves of sunflowers. Cucumber vines don't seem to have the drive to climb straight up that beans do, they've gpt minds of their own. I have had success growing beans up sunflowers.

Some people say sunflowers are allelopathic, meaning they give off substances that slow the growth and vigor of nearby plants. I think there is truth to this, although it doesn't stop me from growing sunflowers every year. Even if I don't plant them I always get volunteers. Squirrels plant seeds from the winter bird feeder for me There are a few threads about sunflowers on permies, here is a recent one

I'm hoping to grow loads of cucumbers this summer. I haven't had a good cucumber year in a while and my whole hearty hungry family loves them. A jar of pickles disappears in the blink of an eye! I like to grow cucumbers against a wire fence.
 
Steve Hoskins
Posts: 65
Location: NW lower Michigan
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah, I've done 3 sisters with sunflower instead of corn.
Cukes might work for the squash part.
Throw in a few pole beans for good measure.

I like the circle idea too, I'm guessing your community garden is exposed to wind; most are.
We all need somebody to lean on...
And some compost.

But leave a hole in the circle to get in there for your lost cukes. If you don't pick em, the plant may stop producing new ones. Also, don't water every day unless its 90+ degrees out. If you don't let the sunflowers get a good taproot, they may lodge (fall over like an uprooted tree).

Lastly, a branching type sunflower might not get as tall as fast, but the cukes will likely climb it more readily, and you can take some flowers inside.
I would use a few mammoth sunflower or grey stripe, and a few autumn beauty or similar branching type, randomly sown in a circle.

But hey, that's just what I would do.
Have fun!
 
Angela Brown
Posts: 41
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Steve Hoskins wrote:Yeah, I've done 3 sisters with sunflower instead of corn.
Cukes might work for the squash part.
Throw in a few pole beans for good measure.

I like the circle idea too, I'm guessing your community garden is exposed to wind; most are.
We all need somebody to lean on...
And some compost.

But leave a hole in the circle to get in there for your lost cukes. If you don't pick em, the plant may stop producing new ones. Also, don't water every day unless its 90+ degrees out. If you don't let the sunflowers get a good taproot, they may lodge (fall over like an uprooted tree).

Lastly, a branching type sunflower might not get as tall as fast, but the cukes will likely climb it more readily, and you can take some flowers inside.
I would use a few mammoth sunflower or grey stripe, and a few autumn beauty or similar branching type, randomly sown in a circle.

But hey, that's just what I would do.
Have fun!
Mr. Hoskins sir,
The bolded kind of talk is what is going to make me bite off more than I can chew! LOL Off to consider if I really can add pole beans to the mix!
 
Steve Hoskins
Posts: 65
Location: NW lower Michigan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yay, I love helping people bite off more than they can chew!

Keep us posted if you have time as the season unfolds.
Good luck!
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 313
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
cat dog duck food preservation forest garden fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With all this talk of allelopathic compounds in the sunflowers, I started going through all the pros in having them around a garden. One thing that came to mind is "ants and aphids"

Sunflowers turn out to be an excellent trap crop for aphids. Ants, being the super evil geniuses of the insect world, are known to actually farm and milk some insects such as aphids - they'll move them to tasty crops and then "milk" them for the sugary honeydew they excrete. This is the same stuff that causes powdery mildew to develop underneath plants with aphid infestations. Sunflowers as feed evidently produces an excellent honeydew for the ants so they will actively move aphids from your spinach, collards, squash and tomatoes to nearby sunflowers, and since sunflowers are so vigorous, they tend to handle the increased "grazing pressure" easily.

I say go for it - plant away and observe. Plant some away from the sunflowers too if you want - call them the "control group" Then just take notes for next year (mental notes are fine) on how things went. Share them if you can. Mother nature is a hard one to mimic with so many things going on that we still don't understand, so when it comes to what we're trying to do on these forums and the community at large, a lot of it comes down to trying such "whacky ideas" as cukes on sunflowers just to see how well they do. You might find you have better success with them than with your "control group"!

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!