Vine House Farm - Growing Sunflowers
In 1995 Nicholas took a bird watching holiday in Argentina, returning with black sunflower seeds for his wife to grow in the garden. After flowering, the sunflowers were left for the birds to harvest naturally.
The resulting increase in birds to the garden was dramatic, attracting a great deal of attention from fellow birdwatchers. Thus the idea ‘seeded’ for Nicholas to provide other bird lovers with the same opportunity in their own garden, and the decision was taken to start commercially growing black sunflowers on the farm and sell the seeds as part of the ever-expanding bird food business.
Now Vine House Farm is one of few UK sunflower growers - – the specific growth requirements mean that Lincolnshire is the furthest north Sunflowers are able to be commercially grown –- and are certainly the largest.
The Seeds are drilled in April to May.
Once in full bloom, all the sunflower heads follow the sun, facing east. The sight is mesmerising, so watch out if you are driving near Baston Fen and Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire, where over 160 acres of sunflowers are being grown each year.
Towards the end of September the heads begin to droop, and this in order to protect the plant from water and hungry birds.
Harvesting occurs when the heads have completely turned brown and the seeds have a low moisture content, which is usually in late September and early October.
The seed is dried and stored in grain stores, then mixed with other home-grown seeds for our different seed mixes, then packed and stored ready to be sent out to our customers.