By: Jeannie Fernsworth Co-founder and Manager Delray Beach Children’s Garden Special to the Derlay Newspaper
Sunflowers are a summer crop at the Delray Beach Children’s Garden because they not only give off beautiful sunny yellow flowers that follow the sun throughout the day but they also have the ability to clean the soil.
Clean soil, you say? All soil contains is contaminated. It is a fact of modern life. Whenever you see a plane flying overhead they are dropping the residue of jet fuel on you and your garden. Piston engine fuel emissions contain heavy metals like lead. Most of the studies on this are from around airports where residue is concentrated however ever present miniscule amounts are present in everyday life.
So how do you clean soil? phyto), meaning ‘plant’, and Latin remedium, meaning ‘restoring balance’) refers to the technologies that use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants. It is defined as “the use of green plants and the associated microorganisms, along with proper soil amendments and agronomic techniques to either contain, remove or render toxic environmental contaminants harmless”
Sound complicated? It is not, you can use cheerful sunflowers to clean your soil. A healthy garden soil is best developed by using crop rotations to confuse pests and to add nutrition like natural nitrogen to the soil. In the case of sunflowers a healthy soil involves removing unwanted heavy metals that fall from the modern sky.
The collaborative campaign #getdirtyinDelray between Wise Tribe and DBCG includes planting sunflowers all over Delray so that we have a clean soil city.
When we clean the soil at the Children’s Garden we use lots of varieties of sunflowers and even broadcast black oil sunflower seeds that we use for sunflower sprouts and for our resident Cardinal who loves the oil rich black seeds.
Mostly during the summer soil cleaning we use the flowers because they make us and our friends happy when we grace our summer tables with them.