The Sunflower Competition

Four of us share our allotment, and so far we’ve managed to avoid any disputes. Time to put our friendship to the test with a sunflower-growing competition.

To make it a fair contest, we’ll all be growing the same sunflower variety from seed from the same packet. I spent a little time on the internet researching the tallest varieties of sunflower, which generally have dramatic and evocative names like “Russian Giant” and “Moonwalker”. Then I nipped down to B&Q and bought some “Fun to Grow Sunny Sunflower Seeds”, which I’m certain all the most competitive growers use.

The packet has a picture of a sunflower boastfully declaring that he’ll grow taller than the grower. It may have been written with small children in mind, but if my sunflowers end up shorter than I am (that’s about 6ft) then I reckon I’ll have a good case for getting my money back.

The first part of the challenge is to pick the best spot. We identified four suitable locations around the plot, and then negotiated over who would get to grow where. Carl and Karen have gone for sunny spots at the bottom of the allotment near the brassicas bed. Jenny and I picked places further up the plot, still in full sun, but with soil that needs a bit more work. I dug plenty of manure and compost into my space before planting, and added a handful of Fish, Blood, and Bone for luck; the others did something similar, but I’m not sure exactly what.

By spreading out, we can all try different strategies without affecting each other. I plan on seeing whether liquid fertiliser from our wormery at home will give me the edge. The others will have ideas of their own. Rather than doing detailed research and carefully devising a strategy, I’m happy trying stuff at random for now. If I lose, then I’ll demand a rematch and put more thought into it next year.

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