One spontaneous plant purchase was the vanilla plant as we (read Me) had romantic notions about harvesting our own. OK, let’s be real here, I often have romantic notions about what we could grow and have on the farm.
Michael created a happy environment for the vanilla, as it comes from the orchid family and we know the places our orchids like here on Our Small Urban Farm. Our vanilla plant is climbing up a metal reinforcing screen on the western side of the patio (sunset side) protected by a layer of shade cloth which gives it a wonderfully sheltered spot, warm without the rather harsh Queensland summer sun drying it out.
As it grew, we trained it along one of the beams and it happily treated our patio like a favourite tree, travelling along and establishing aerial roots as it went. I know this photo’s a bit dark, but you get the picture.
Then, after what seemed like aeons, Michael noticed a flower spike growing. AWESOME. It’s been like waiting for someone to have a baby and so funny for anyone watching. Each day we watched as the spike grew into flowers and those flowers began to bloom. (Big smiles)
Michael asked YouTube about pollination so that he could be ready and, yes, vanilla pollination is quite a tricky thing.
Unfazed by the intricate steps involved, Michael (as the elected tall pollinator) set about pollinating these flowers. Just so you know, the flower has a short pollination window of maybe 4 hours, the flower itself doesn’t even last a day and 11am seemed to be the best time for this work.
Well, at this stage it looks as though we have succeeded in pollinating 3 vanilla flowers (don’t start laughing yet) with more coming. This is a young plant so it’s good that we get proficient Now and are prepared for the many flower spikes to come.
I understand that the pods take six months or so to mature and there’s yet another process or two before we actually get the vanilla bean pod from the plant to the table, and am sure I can record this for you at the time.
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Thanks for joining me at Our Small Farm, see you next time. LINDA