Tom’s Talk: Pollen Rules! by Tom Prohl, Production Intern

Hello all and thanks for tuning into this weeks “Tom’s Talk”.

With our sunflowers in full and magnificent bloom the hum of bees pollinating fills the garden. Pollination is a crucial step in the reproduction of the all angiosperms (flower bearing plants) Pollination occurs when pollen is transferred from the male pollen producing flower part called the Anther, to the female receiving part called the Stamen. Bees, birds and other insects play a key role and landing on the flower in search of sweet nectar, covering themselves in pollen in which is transferred to a next flower which the bee lands on. A colony of honey bees is kept behind the farmhouse and I have spotted the honey bees up in the sunflower patch. In addition to our sunflowers, we are also growing Calendula, Nasturtiums and zinnias in an effort to keep the garden beautiful and attract pollinators. Our favorite cover crop, buckwheat, also attracts scores of pollinators as well as predatory insects which use the thick crop as a protective refuge.

We have a small but very busy patch of milk weed at the far end of the garden. Often 2-3 monarch butterflies flap around the milkweed. It is essential to maintain milkweed habitat for monarch butterflies as they lay their eggs on the milkweed leaves. The monarch butterfly makes one of the worlds most incredible migrations; from Mexico where it overwinters all they way to Freeport, Canada and beyond.

Fun facts about Pollination and Flowers

90% of flowering plants depend on insect for pollination, the other 10% are pollinated by “abiotic pollination” in which the flower is pollinated by wind, water or another mechanism.

There are over 200,000 varieties of animal pollinators, many of them insects.
In the desert pollinating insects are in very low populations; cacti depend on bats and mice to pollinate their flowers

In some parts of china a large percentage of agricultural crops need to be hand pollinated because air pollution has wiped out the population of many pollinating bees.

Monoecious plants have both male and female sexual parts on the same plant.

Dioecious plants have only male or female flowers, not both.

  • by Tom Prohl, Production Intern

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