As part of my new homesteading adventure, I have a vertical garden on the small patio, a salad bar of microgreens. Microgreens are tiny plants eaten at the young tender stage for very fast harvest. Not all plants are suitable for this, as some greens/vegetables are toxic at early stages, so it requires research or purchasing from a seed company that has great instructions.
These fresh greens make a tasty salad and are more interesting than the typical mixed greens found in boxed salads, like sunflower seeds. Sunflowers grow quickly and can be harvested in just a few days. Small fresh shoots with a couple of green leaves on them make a hearty salad with a mild flavor. Unfortunately, we are in competition with the birds!
We’ve been feeding the birds sunflower seeds for the past few years. We have a large family of cardinals who seem to be raising five active, silly, and hungry offspring. They discovered the sunflower seeds in my vertical garden and they will pick the plants to get at the partial seeds that remain on the leaves. While the seeds are germinating, the planter is covered (it’s part of the growing process, but I realize that if I hadn’t covered them they’d have eaten ALL of the seeds!). But, after the plants start to grow it’s time to uncover the planters so that they will receive sunlight. Sometimes a few seed parts are still clinging to the emerging leaves, and there may also be a few seeds that hadn’t yet germinated.
So, I’ve been feeding the birds in both their regular feeder and in our vertical salad garden. This has been a bit vexing, and hilarious. They act “naughty” when they pluck the seedlings from my garden and they seem to know when I’m displeased. They’ve grown up in our patio space and are almost like pets. I can’t teach them not to eat the food from our table though! That’s why I won’t be ordering any more sunflower seeds for a while.
For the sunflowers that grew too fast for us to eat them, I’ve been collecting them and transplanting them into pots. If they grow to full maturity, they will be fun and decorative to look at. We might even get to harvest their seeds, but I doubt it. I think we’ll just be feeding the birds!