Feeding Pollinators with Brassica Flowers


Brassica Plant Going To Seed

It’s March in Louisiana and I finally am turning my attention to my raised beds. Our weather has been, humid, cold, warm, wet, and even wetter (really, two kinds of wet). With all of the rain, I have been dragging my feet on preparing my raised beds for the spring and summer planting. However, I’ve actually had a great experience watching my Brassica plants go through a cycle that I’m usually in a hurry to disrupt so I can move the process along.

Pollinator Support During Brassica Lifecycle

Bee On Broccoli Yellow Flowers 

I have never before watched the entire cycle of Brassicas: from seed to shoot, seedling to plant, harvest, to flower, to seed again. In January, after I harvested broccoli (and all the little delicious shoots), cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, I just left the plants alone. Over February I began to notice these bright beautiful flowers reaching for the sky.

I’d been reading about pollination and enhancing my habitat to encourage pollinators, so I was more than happy to allow the Brassicas to continue to thrive and told myself that my little early bees and butterflies would have a treat (courtesy of my laziness).

Then I started thinking that maybe I should go ahead and pull up the plants, because they must surely be taking nutrition from the soil and were a little unsightly with yellow leaves. Also, I’ve read in many Extension publications that disease begins to spread as plants age and that putting diseased plants in compost can risk its spreading if material ends up not becoming fully composted by the time of application.

3/15/2019 8:08:48 AM

For years now, I've been letting my broccoli plants flower and go to seed after harvesting the heads. I enjoy the extra flowers in the garden, and feeding pollinators is important to me as I have seen a decline in bee species in my area. Bumble bees are especially attracted to the brassica flowers. I've never had a problem of spreading disease after properly composting these plants. One broccoli plant will provide all the seeds you'll need for next year's plantings.

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