Urban Pollination Project – Free Tomato Plants and Citizen Science

Bees!I am full of the garden freebies this week! (My thanks goes to the P-Patch listserve for that, actually.)  This is a fun project that some of my fellow Summit Slope P-Patchers took part in last year. The Urban Pollination Project has already had it’s first info session, but I’m sure they’ll have some more before they pass out the science tomatoes in May.  Get in touch with them if you’ve got a P-Patch, and you’d like to do science and get some free tomatoes in the bargain.

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We are seeking P-Patch gardeners to participate in bumblebee research by growing tomato plants (provided), providing supplementary “buzz pollination”, counting and measuring the tomatoes and reporting the results. Interested, keep reading? 

Native bees, tomatoes and tuning forks – what do they have in common?

Native bumblebees provide a specialized pollination service known as buzz pollination, vibrating their wings at a specific frequency shakes the pollen free from certain plants like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Honeybees aren’t up for the job. Are their enough native pollinators around or will we all be buying tuning forks to “buzz” pollinate our tomatoes? That is one of the questions UPP is trying to answer.

P-patch gardeners can participate by growing tomatoes. Each participant will receive 3 Gold Nugget (cherry) tomato plants. One will be covered to prevent pollination, one left open for any pollinators that might be around and the last will receive additional pollination services with a tuning fork. Yes, there will likely be far fewer tomatoes on the covered plant, but it is all in the name of science and you do get two other plants and a cool tuning fork to use!

When the tomatoes start coming in, you count, measure the volume (graduated cylinders provided) and report the results. End of season feasting is also included.

Participation is open to all P-patch gardeners within the City of Seattle and we’re hoping to get at least 6 gardeners per P-patch.

We will also be hosting bee identification seminars.

·      To learn more about the project, go to http://nwpollination.org/about/

·      To sign up to participate go to urbanpollinationproject@gmail.com. Tomatoes will be distributed in mid-May.

·      To arrange for someone from UPP to come to your P-Patch and explain the details of the project contact urbanpollinationproject@gmail.com.

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