Growing sunflower seeds in quantity for eating

I am following Dr Briffa's natural primal diet, and am growing as much of it as I can.
Nuts & seeds are a part of this.(There is no breakfast as delicious as hot toasted nuts and seeds) I want to grow enough sunflower seeds to feed my family of 4 (approx 1 tablespoonful a day each).

I would love advice on: what is the best variety of sunflower to grow for seeds to eat; (and best place to buy them if allowed to say) is it best to sow indoors first or straight into the ground; at present the entire veg garden is covered in 4" of 3 yr old rotted horse manure (spread on last October), then permeable weed cover to keep weeds out before sowing. I hope the enormous number of worms we have here will have done their job over the Winter & mixed it into the soil beneath. Would this be too rich for them? (Our soil is clay but now improved with compost & manure to a nice dark loam).

Finally, how do I know when to harvest them? And do they need to be dried out in some way to store them?
I am thinking of growing them in fruit cages to keep birds out, (we feed the birds their own sunflower seeds bought in 20 kilo sacks).
Currently, I can only find organic sunflower seeds imported from China or USA which is a lot of unnecessary food miles.

 This is not easy in Britain, to do productively, unless you live in the warmer south east.

Your soil sounds fine for growing everything, and the fruit cage is worthwhile as birds love them, although a sufficient quantity might be more than most flocks of garden birds could eat... I have not tried growing them to eat though and wonder how you will get on with hulling all that seed? It might be more productive to use your precious soil for other food crops (dried beans such as runner bean Czar), also naked pumpkin seeds - but I am unsure which variety is best, of those currently available.

By charles

I have been worried about all the hulling too. There doesn't seem to be any domestic machines for this. I loved your comment about using the precious soil for something else, and thank you for the very helpful suggestions. I have now watched a youtube video of what is actually involved in preparing sunflower seeds - oh my goodness! I will, however, still be growing quite a few sunflowers for their looks and the birds (& probably the mice who had all my sweetcorn last year) can have a field day with them.

By Larkspur