How to Compost Sunflower Stalks


As the growing season ends and garden clean up begins, perhaps the spent sunflower stalks are eyed with disinterest because there is no apparent value in their long and sturdy stalks. Take another look with the compost bin in mind. Using sunflower stalks to form the base of a compost pile will provide beneficial aeration to allow the compost to breathe within the materials.

Step 1

Cut off the sunflower stalks at the soil level using lopper shears.

Step 2

Choose a spot for the compost heap that receives full sunlight. Place a wooden palette in this spot.

Step 3

Cut the sunflower stalks so they are as long as the dimensions of the wooden palette. Make each sunflower stalk the same length so the stalks can be crisscrossed on the palette to create the foundation of the compost heap, assuming the palette is a square,

Step 4

Place the sunflower stalks onto the wooden palette. Lay the stalks across the palette in one direction, spacing them approximately 4 inches apart. Then lay the stalks across the palette in the opposite direction, spacing them the same distance. Create a 4-inch-high layer of sunflower stalks.

Step 5

Add a 12-inch-high layer of grass and leaves directly over the sunflower stalks.

Step 6

Place ¼ of an inch of topsoil over the grass and leaves, spreading it evenly.

Step 7

Add another layer of sunflower stalks in the same fashion, except make this layer 2 inches high. Add another layer of grass and leaves, making this layer half as high (6 inches) as the first layer. Add a second ¼-inch layer of top soil.

Step 8

Repeat Step 7 to make the compost heap as high as you desire.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden palette
  • Lopper shears
  • Sunflower stalks
  • Wet grass and leaves
  • Topsoil
  • Shovel


  • "The Rodale Book of Composting"; Deborah L. Martin, Grace Gershuny; 1992
Keywords: sunflower stalks, compost bin, beneficial aeration

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.