The last of the sunflowers were pulled out of the garden last week. They looked good for a while thanks to the cold weather, but recent frosty nights were their final demise.
Once the secondary heads start looking tired or you don’t see them enlarging from one week to the next, you know they are finished. It was a shame since they harbored a perfect growing condition for a few types of mushrooms. Portabellas were particularly happy, multiplying in the compost that surrounded the sunflowers for the past six months.
After Octavio pulled up the sunflowers, he placed them in the compost pile, not knowing how slow they can decompose. The next day I raked they down from the pile, and stacked them neatly to be cut up. As I snipped them into six inch sections, I was thinking it a shame that the sturdy stems could not be dried and used for stakes for seedlings or something. But they tend to get very brittle once fully dried out, so I went back to snipping. Some of the stems were completely covered in beetles and other bugs, I let them be and chopped up the rest, then tossed them back onto the warm compost pile.
The flower strip in the garden will finish the cold season with calendula, a couple small nasturtiums, and a couple stringy marigolds. Vetch cover crop fills in the gaps and amends the soil as it grows.