of bumblebees and bolt resistance…

brocflwrsIt’s been two months since my last post with its picture of young broccoli plants in a new raised bed, and now those plants are in full flower. This is Piracicaba, aka Brazilian Broccoli. Lots more about it on its own newly expanded page. This planting is the current pollinator hot spot of the garden, humming all day long with honey bees, droning black bumblebees, and many varieties of the native solitary bees who provide such excellent pollination services in such quietly modest style.

This year’s variety trials started with early-May plantings of melons and Asian cucumbers. The varieties showed equal damage in the late-May hard freeze, with especially heavy cucumber losses. Still enough plants to gather information about yields and flavors, but not enough to be a dependable market item. The cilantro trial of varieties claiming bolt-resistance has a clear winner: Calypso, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, is still producing broad rosette leaves, after two heat-wave periods of temperatures in the 90s, while the others have two-foot-tall flower stalks. Caribe, from Fedco Seeds, was the most initially vigorous – I’d grow it when quickness was the first concern. The one I’d been saving for years, however, was the first to bolt. I’ll toss my old saved seed into one of those garden-margin areas devoted to attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects, where quick flowering can be considered an asset.

Mendocino’s sustainable living information hot spot this month will be the Not So Simple Living Fair in Booneville on July 26, 27 & 28. I’ll be joining Andy Balestracci of Diaspora Seeds for a seed-saving workshop, and Lin will offer her popular Chickens 101.