Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When life gives you kohlrabi buds...eat them!

I planted purple vienna kohlrabi late last fall. They never formed bulbs, but I wasn't really surprised. This seems to be common among other vegetable gardeners. I pulled most of the plants in February, but left a few mostly because I think their leaves are pretty. And THEN I see THIS:
Trying not to get my hopes up, I snipped off the flower bud, gave it a quick rinse, and took a bite. Mmmm...tastes like broccoli. Several side shoots are forming and I'm just trying to snip them before any flowers open. So far, I've picked half a pound of kohlrabi buds from 2 plants...not bad!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pacific Orchid Exposition 2010

The Pacific Orchid Exposition is the largest orchid show in the country, yet it is held in a building surrounded by the smallest number of parking spaces. The venue is the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, which is surrounded by mostly water - brillant. There are always a lot of people (up to 30,000) who show up and hand over $14 each to attend the show. So, naturally, there's lots of crowding, "squeezing past" and "excuse me's". I had thought that the downturn in the enigmatic "economy" might deter people from coming this year, but the show was packed nonetheless. This lady really dressed up for the show:

Over the last couple of years, the shows have been a bit "blah" to me and were starting to seem like repeats. I wasn't sure if it was worth going this year. And after a week away from home on business travel, I was exhausted. But I went anyway.

So, was it worth it? Oh yes! There lots of great displays and excellent plants for sale, which made me break a vow...

See, I made a vow to "refrain from new orchid purchases for a year and focus on growing my current collection really well". Yeah, that didn't last.

I came home with 4 new plants:
Lepotes bicolor (from Gold Country Orchids),
Masdevallia exquista and Masdevallia polysticta subsp. spathulifolia (from Andy's Orchids),
and Masdevallia princeps (from Ecuagenera).

Ok, the last one I consider a charity-type purchase since Ecuagenera works really hard to give jobs to local people, build schools for kids, and protect dwindling orchid habit in Ecuador, where they are located. All good.

And I had been trying to find M. exquista for a couple of years...ever since I saw it in Orchid Digest. Lovely. So that one doesn't really count either :)

You know, I think everybody at the show stepped it up this year...customers included. I noticed a lot more young people at the show. And more people were looking at the species orchids, as opposed to the "supermarket phals". (Nothing against the "supermarket phals", per se. It's just that they will likely start to bore you after a while if you are an orchid grower.) And there were a lot more species plants in the display area, with less focus on hybrids. Thanks commercial growers.

Gorgeous Masdevallias with huge flowers.

And tiny pleurothallids loaded with minuscule flowers.

The Best of Show was a beautiful specimen of Dendrochilium cobbianum:

The following plant was awarded by the American Orchid Society. John Leathers, a commercial grower from the bay-area, received the award and named the clone in honor/memory of Jim Nybakken. Jim was an amazing orchid grower with an encyclopedia-like knowledge of orchid species, especially pleurothallids. He was also a member of my local orchid society and sadly passed away last summer. He is missed.