Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mystery Plant

There is a stranger in our midst, a mystery plant growing among the Brussels sprouts.  One of the transplants we got from a friend last fall must have been labeled wrong.

We didn't notice anything unusual for quite a while.  Its leaves were the same color as those around it.  To me, Brassica-family plants look pretty similar when they are young, anyway.  But after a few months we noticed that its leaves looked more like broccoli raab leaves.  Then it started forming a swollen stem like a kohlrabi.  Still, it didn't look quite the same as the kohlrabi plants we had planted on purpose further down the row.  Our best guess is that it is a cross between kohlrabi and broccoli raab.  Maybe we should call it "brokohlraab" (Say that five times fast!).  Wherever this seed was produced, some industrious little bee must have carried pollen a long way from a field of broccoli raab and dropped it into a flower in another field of kohlrabi!

We decided that the best course of action was to eat that brokohlraab.  At some point.  Then the spring planting blitz hit and we forgot about the mystery plant for a while.  The next time I really looked at it, I saw it had sent up a bunch of flower stalks and pretty little yellow blooms were opening up.  And the bees had found it.

At that time, there were very few blossoms in the garden besides the favas, which the bees were pointedly eschewing.  We love our pollinators and do what we can to encourage them, so I didn't have the heart to chop down our little mystery plant and deprive the bees of their feast.

A month later, there are hundreds of flowers on the brokohlraab and the pollinators still think they are the bee's knees (couldn't resist that one).  Soon we will have to remove it to make room for pepper plants.  Luckily, a lot of other plants are blooming now, both in the garden and in the yard, so we can rest easy that there will be plenty of food for our apian friends.

I still intend to eat it.  That kitchen experiment may show up as a post in a few weeks.

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