Sunflowers to inspire a love of gardening
Sunflowers to inspire a love of gardening
14th August 2014
There will be smiles as big sunflowers from local kindergarten children across the country as the 2014 Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens project kicks off on the 18th August 2014. After a successful pilot programme in 2013, this year the project has expanded so more kindy kids can have the opportunity to grow their own sunflowers. Four more regional kindergarten associations in Wellington, New Plymouth, Tauranga and Waikato have joined the project.
The Daltons Sunflowers in Kindy’s Project will run from the 18th August to 9th December 2014 with winners announced on the 12th December 2014. Last year over 170 kindergartens in Auckland, Nelson Tasman, Marlborough, Dunedin, and Christchurch took part and grew their own amazing King Seeds Skyscraper sunflowers - with the tallest a whooping 214cm! This year 236 kindergartens in nine regions* throughout New Zealand are participating.
Daltons General Manager, Colin Parker says “For us, the main objective of this project is to inspire and empower the next generation of kiwi gardeners and there is something about sunflowers that really engages children. Last year it was great to see the joy on the kindergarten children’s faces as they watched their sunflowers grow, and feedback from teachers was really positive. This year we expanded the project slightly so more children could have a go at growing their own sunflower and learn gardening skills and knowledge along the way.”
At the end of the project each Kindergarten will nominate a 'Daltons Best Little Gardener' who gets a special certificate and prize. Regional prizes are up for grabs from Daltons and Warehouse Stationery for the Kindergarten who grows The Tallest Sunflower, and the Sunflower with the widest head. Participating kindergartens will also go into a draw to win a gardening workshop with TV personality and award winning landscape designer Xanthe White.
The Daltons in Sunflowers project was created to inspire a love of gardening through learning. It will provide many wonderful learning opportunities for kindy kids to gain gardening skills for life, understand a plant’s life cycle in action and how to nurture a tiny seed into a blooming flower. Children are also exposed to concepts of size and basic maths through regularly measuring and recording their plants growth along the way. The project is supported by teaching tools to help teachers with the success of the project, including fortnightly emails with sunflower facts and activities to engage the children.
Even if your children are not part of the Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens project, you can still inspire a love of gardening and grow sunflowers together with your children at home. Here are some top tips from Daltons for growing great sunflowers:
1. There are so many different types and sizes of sunflowers to grow; Kings Seeds has a great selection online.
2. Sunflowers need lots of sun to grow well so where you plant it is very important. Choose a spot that gets plenty of sun throughout the day and is sheltered from the wind so your sunflower does not blow over as it grows.
3. Germinate your sunflower seeds indoors for the first month or so. It is too cold to grow them outside now and you could get a late frost that may kill your seedlings. To sow seeds in pots fill them with Daltons Seed Raising Mix and insert your sunflower into the soil at approximately 1-1.5cm deep (no more than twice the DIAMETER of the seed) and water well. Place pots indoors on a nice sunny windowsill.
4.When the seedling gets to about 10-15cm tall you can plant it outside (depending on your region and the weather). If you have limited space you can grow sunflowers outside in pots. Choose a large pot with drainage holes and fill with Daltons Potting Mix, then plant your seedling and water well.
5. Protect your sunflower plants from slugs using slug bait and birds during the seedling stage. As they grow aphids can be a problem and if they arrive, simply wash them off the plant with water.
6. Some sunflowers, and in particular the Kings Seeds Sunflower Skyscraper can grow more than 3 metres tall so it’s advisable to stake plants or provide support so their stem does not snap.
7. Remember to keep watering and remove any weeds that are competing for nutrients around your sunflower. Then watch it grow and see your sunflower bloom!