Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Snacking on Kale Blossoms

 I am happy to announce that Madame Beespeaker is diversifying her portfolio! This year I will be doing projects about hummingbird awareness and will be performing hummingbird interventions--growing plants that attract hummers to community gardens. The first planting day was this week with a class at Simon Fraser Elementary in their school plots at the Mount Pleasant Community Garden. While we planted scarlet runner beans and nasturtiums for the hummingbirds, we snacked on kale  and brussel sprout blossoms.

It was fun to see the look of surprise on the children's faces as they tasted a brassica flower for the first time. "It's really good! I didn't expect to like it, but it's better than broccoli! Can I have some more? What else can I eat? Can I eat this sunflower? I can't stop eating these kale flowers. I'm addicted!" The bees love them too, and we have been surrounded by bumble bees, honey bees and mason bees sipping nectar and collecting pollen as we garden. This project has been sponsored by a Vancouver Foundation Small Neighborhood Grant. Many Thanks!

 Today I tried to get some more folks hooked on kale blossoms at the community kitchen at the Moberly Community Arts Centre. Mohinder gave them a try for the first time. . . .

 The verdict? A very cheeky smile tells me she likes them too.

 We drank chai, ate kale blossoms and sweets and chatted about kale, scarlet runner beans and nasturtiums--a trifecta of healthy foods that are easy to grow in your garden. All three plants have beautiful edible flowers and the hummingbirds love the scarlet bean flowers and the nasturtiums as well. The ladies also wanted some perennials, so I bought them some Monarda didyma plants at the UBC Botanical Garden sale. I put some in the Moberly Herb Garden so we can make tea when the plants are established. Monarda is a trifecta pollinator plant. It is a food plant for some lepidoptera (including some that feed exclusively on Monarda species) as well as forage for bumble bees and hummingbirds. It is an atypical bee plant, in that it is red, which is a color bees see as black. Bumble bees also love scarlet runner beans, and they are also atypical bee plants. Scarlet runner beans, unlike common beans, need to be" tripped" by pollinators, even though they self pollinate.

 I gave tips on planting these hummingbird attractors and also taught them how to protect their garden from slugs, which was a big hit! This project is made possible by The Moberly Community Arts Centre. I look forward to more afternoons in the Moberly Community herb garden with these lovely ladies.

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