The Intrepid Little Sunflower

(The audio podcast for this post can be found at this link.)

Recent events in the world have made me think about my irrepressible, intrepid little sunflower of two years ago. I’m thinking it might be time to retell that story…

(Originally published on July 13, 2020.)
One happy story has emerged from the Slug Battles this summer: The Story of the Intrepid Little Sunflower.

The slugs and snails have been voracious this year. When my little sunflowers first sprouted I covered them every night with jars. When they outgrew the jars I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and go on Slug Patrol – looking for any snails or slugs that might be chowing down on my sunflower youngsters (in the morning I would take the slugs and snails out to our wetland – what I’ve dubbed my “Snail and Slug Refuge” – and ask them to please stay down there). Eventually I started wrapping copper tape around the bottom of the sunflowers’ stems and that seemed to work pretty well – UNTIL one morning I found a slug or snail had chomped through the stem of one of the sunflower youngsters and the top three inches were hanging from the bottom three inches by mere threads. I tried to tape it together, but that didn’t work well. Finally, I pulled the top part off and – finding I didn’t have it in me to toss it in the compost – I put it in a little bottle filled with water and put it on top of a book case, and waited for nature to take its course.

But the little sunflower did not die. In fact, it appeared to me that it even grew a few inches.

A couple weeks went by and the leaves started turning yellow. It was obvious to me my little sunflower teenager needed nutrients. On impulse, I put about half an inch of soil in the bottom of the bottle and made sure the bottom of the sunflower stem touched the soil – I hoped the plant would somehow suck up the nutrients it needed – maybe it would grow roots? I wasn’t sure how that worked – but it seemed possible to me.

And today when I looked over at the sunflower teenager he seemed to have grown six inches overnight! I looked at the bottom of the bottle and there were roots in there!

I planted him in a planter out on the deck. Right now he is out there, straight and getting taller, and waving happily in the breeze at me.

(Originally published on September 13, 2020.)
You may remember the story about the intrepid little sunflower who was sawed in half by a slug earlier in the summer and grew new roots in a bottle. I transplanted her to a pot and put her out on the side of the house by her sister – where she’d originally been when she was attacked in the infamous Slug Wars. She thrived and grew out there and now she’s blooming!

Because she’s in a pot I was able to move her away from the dark background of the house for a photo of her in the sunlight. Check it out…

(Here’s a photo history of the Intrepid Little Sunflower.)
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

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