Growing a Sunflower House for Your Kids
A sunflower house is an easy and exciting project for you and your kids. I am currently growing my second one in the same spot. I marked off an 8'x8' square. I double dug a furrow, hoed a shallow moat around the furrow, and put in sunflowers which I had sprouted into seedlings elsewhere. I alternate a mammoth variety which grows about eight feet, and a small variety which grows about 4 feet. The tall ones impress the kids by growing taller than they are and they provide abundant shade. The kids enjoy looking closely at the flowers, eye-to-eye, on the shorter ones.
I also plant a few corn in with the sunflowers. This is a companion planting secret: the corn drives Carpophilus beetles from the sunflowers, and the sunflowers protect the corn from fall armyworms. I chose multi-colored Indian popcorn.
Inside is a thick carpet of white clover which I planted last summer and grew throughout the winter. Around the edges I planted camomile and catnip, both of which are reputed to give off aromas soothing to children. I also planted peppermint and spearmint. All these plants are edible. All can be trampled and recover quickly.
Above the sunflower house, many bees, butterflies, and other insects visit the huge flowers. Above, the Queen of the Sky...a Monarch.
Finally, also on the edges, I planted yarrow, which seems to improve the health of everything it is nearby; cosmos, which will grow six feet tall after the sunflowers whither and die; and carrots, which I hope the kids will discover while playing in the house (but I have such bad luck with carrots).