True Life: I used to be a Pollinator

Last spring I took on a role that most people associate with honey bees: the pollinator.

I have built up a large collection of glass light-fixtures that I up-cycle into terrariums. One of my earlier terrarium experiments involved a small strawberry plant. The little transplant was a runner that I cut from an already established strawberry plant in my home garden. On March 31st, I nestled the wee little strawberry into a fresh bed of potting soil, surrounded by a ring of 'volunteer' (seeded from the year before) baby lettuces that were also salvaged from the garden.  

By April 11th--less than two weeks later--the strawberry transplant began to bloom! I remember thinking to myself how great it was going to be to eat delicious fresh berries from the comfort of my own home. But then it dawned on me: The flowers could not be fertilized without the help of a pollinator.

My first thought was to catch a honey bee and let it loose within the confines of the fixture. Upon further deliberation, I decided that catching a bee and trapping it in the terrarium would most likely leave me with a searing bee stinger on my face. Avoiding the inevitability of an attack, my second thought was to learn how to pollinate the strawberry myself! 

Using a very small paint brush, I gently brushed away. The goal was to transfer the pollen from the flower's male stamens to the female pistils. Strawberry flowers are botanically considered "perfect" because they carry both male and female parts. Watch the short video below to see me in full pollinating action !! 

A couple of weeks later, the berry began to develop. However, half-way through the process I uprooted the whole plant and replaced it with one of my favorite decorative plants, Oxalis vulcanicola. Since then, my Oxalis has been thriving, almost a year later! 

-Hanna

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