Sunflowers are a gardener's favorite in both the flower and vegetable gardens. Coming in many sizes and shapes, this annual flower provides beauty and food for people and animals alike. Protecting a sunflower head that is nearly ready for harvesting means the difference between who gets to control the seed consumption--the gardener or the animals.
Cover the sunflower seed head with a piece of cheesecloth when the flower petal "rays" have fallen off.
Secure the cheesecloth lightly with a piece of twine around the stem below the head.
Uncover the seed head periodically and check the green disc at its back, where the flower bloom is connected to the stem. The disk will turn from green to yellow to dark brown, at which point the sunflower is ready to harvest. To prevent birds and animals from picking at the seeds in the meantime, keep the seed head covered until ready.