Sunflowers are so productive in our hot, dry climate here in Boise, Idaho. We are in the western half of the Snake River plain, which has been heavily developed for agriculture. I only wish more commercial crop production was better suited to our desert climate.
Every five years, the United States Geological Survey publishes a report of water use in the nation.
Maupin, M.A., 2018, Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018-3035, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183035.
The last report compiled data for 2015, and Idaho is one of the top consumers of fresh water, primarily for irrigation. I really do understand the importance of agriculture-no farms, no food. But if we can grow crops more suited to our environment, we would be so much more efficient in using our natural resources.
I have a little story from my garden to illustrate how we can all accomplish our part in conserving water and growing our own supplies. In the past, I had a great longing to grow bamboo so that I could produce my own straight, tall stakes for pole beans. I really hate buying anything new for the garden, wasting money on manufactured products. Much of my gardening philosophy is to produce useful products using as many recycled, reused, and repurposed materials as possible. But bamboo never did well for me. However, sunflowers come up volunteer every year in my back yard. I don’t know if they started from bird seed, or if they are self-seeding from a variety pack of sunflower seeds that I planted in 2016, or both. They are extremely hefty plants, producing a lot of biomass with a many uses. I cut off the leaves, small stems, and flowers to feed the goats, save some seed heads for winter wild bird feed, and use the heftiest stems for stakes in the garden. Right now, as of August 7th, I have already harvested a significant amount for all these purposes. I left the root wads of two big stalks in the ground and bound them together for a natural arch. Keeping the root wads in the ground will make it a very stable arch. I cut even lengths to make little teepees to protect some plantings from my dog Bo laying on them. I have more teepees to support morning glory and some newly-planted fall peas. What a wonderfully generous useful plant!
I am so glad I didn’t expend any more energy, time, or resources into bamboo, which didn’t even originally come from this hemisphere.
Plant sunflowers next year. You will not be sorry!