Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Friday, October 03, 2008

To Bee or Not To Bee

Yikes! Two months since my last post. Bad Ann. Anyway, it's not like I haven't been meaning to, I've just not made blogging a priority. One reason for the lack of posting is that I'm instead trying to be more diligent with my "gardening". Now if you know my living situation, you know I live in a condo without a yard. I do have a balcony but most of the plants there are of the cactus variety. Although I am a farmer's daughter, I have a tendency towards a brown thumb -it's hard for plants other than cactii to be healthy when you forget to water them for over a week. For the past few years I have been practicing my horticulture skills on the plants in my office at work.

After killing the first few potted plants I tried, I have been having more success in the last two years with my pothos (devil's ivy) and my peace lillies. (I also have an orchid that never blooms because the temperature is not variable enough inside). This success emboldened my to try at home. Using some empty pots from the last failed attempt at growing herbs, I went out and bought some more seeds -basil, thyme, parsley, chives, sage, rosemary to plant. The basil, parsley, chives and sage grew right away while the others faltered. I went out and bought some already young plants to replace the thyme and rosemary. I also bought a small grape tomato plant to grow in my kitchen along with the herbs.

While I'm still having problems with the thyme, rosemary, oregano and now, unfortunately the chives (all are dead as I write this), the tomato plant outgrew my kitchen and had to be moved to the balcony where it began to produce a few tiny tomatoes. "Hooray", I thought, "success!" That was somewhat short-lived because my homeowners association made me clear my balcony for powerwashing which they claimed was only for a few days. The few days became a few weeks and although the tomato plant had plenty of blossoms, there was no fruit on the vine.

My dad said I needed to play bee to get it pollinated properly but he never explained exactly how I was to do this other than brushing the flowers. That gave me all of about three tomatoes. Consulting the internet for help told me that yes, I needed a bee or a least a wind to blow the pollen around (not things you find indoors, BTW). Well, finally the tomato vine went back outside but even then the flowers would drop without fruit -no bees were coming to my balcony. One more visit to the internet told me the proper technique to play bee; I needed to vibrate the tomato plant behind the flower, perhaps using an electric toothbrush, to simulate the bee vibrations and to drop the pollen out. While I do have an electric toothbrush, I thought I'd try tapping rapidly with my finger first and shazam! I'm starting to get tomatoes. So when I step out on my balcony every other day between 9am and 4pm, it's just me playing bee.

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