The sunflowers that require no annual planting: meet sunchokes (aka wild sunflowers) and Maximilian sunflowers. Of course they bring a sunflower vibe to growing spaces, but also have all the perks of perennials for the environment.
Tubers loosen compacted soils, blossoms feed pollinators, the woody plant tissue absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than annual plants, they create a safe haven for predatory insects and birds, and they are edible. It’s said Maximilian sunflowers were planted around homes by the early settlers to deter mosquitos, and when their tubers are dried and added to bath water, they relieve pain and inflammation due to arthritis. And let’s not forget to mention the stunning living wall these plants create.
Both sunchokes and Maximilian sunflowers spread by way of edible tubers. Therefore it's essential to plant these crops in a location with moist but well-draining soil. Too much standing water is cause for root rot, and will not only affect the harvestable roots but also threaten the life and productivity of the plants. If plants are allowed to continue to multiply without harvesting the tubers, a dense living wall will remain that can spread more and more every season.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead® LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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