Posts Tagged ‘nipomo’

Luffa sponge

 

For a lovely lather, nothing beats a luffa. Whether you are washing yourself, your car, or a sink full of dishes, the dried plant makes a fantastic sponge. Organic and free of any synthetic material, the luffa is a great alternative to scrubbers made from foamed plastic polymers (and makes a perfect companion to your trusty bamboo washcloth!) If you have ever wondered how and where these household items are raised, take a trip down to Nipomo’s Luffa Farm. There, you can take a tour of the greenhouse where the plants are grown, view the production process, and meander through the gardens where the herbs for the farm’s bath products are cultivated.

The Luffa Farm began as an informal hobby of the owner who would establish the vines on small plots of land everywhere from Northern California to Missouri. In 1999, she moved down to the Central Coast along with a collection of heirloom luffa seeds. Thinking that she could grow enough to display her luffas at a local drugstore, she began raising luffas in a greenhouse on her property. Once word spread about the quality of her products, curious locals and tourists began to drop in to her farm. She began to offer tours of her operation, and visitors are welcome to learn a little about the luffa two days a week.

The Nipomo Luffa Farm currently grows and harvests over 6,000 luffas every year. The owner promises the softest and most luxurious sponges you have ever felt. The luffas are machine-washable, durable and biodegradable. The Luffa Farm is open to the public Wednesdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm and located at 1457 Willow Rd. in Nipomo. Products are available for sale at the farm or online.

 

Walking along a park-side path in Nipomo, my Naturalist brain was cataloging the flora along the side of the walkway. “Oak, lupin, buckwheat, lilac, sage, a gigantic swarm of bees, toyon, mugwart…wait.  Go back.  A giant swarm of bees?!”  About three feet from where I was standing a thrumming, writhing mass of bees had taken over a green-waste bin.  Below the amber mat of wiggling insects read a sign, “STAND BACK-SWARMING BEES”.

Who could have been brave or foolhardy enough to get close enough to this many stinging bugs to post a warning?  As far as I knew, bees were outside of Animal Control’s jurisdiction, and calling Pest Control  for the eradication of these pollinators would be a waste of life, potential revenue, and an added blow to the already long list of adversities facing our country’s hives.  What was going to happen to this newly formed, awkwardly placed colony?  Luckily for these buzzing ladies, San Luis Obispo County is honeybee friendly.

Around spring, hives produce new queens, allowing the old queen to venture forth with a portion of the colony’s population to establish a new group.  This party of drones and queen are collectively known as a swarm, and they can set up shop wherever they feel a hive would be safe and productive.  Humans and bees at times disagree as to where these locations should be, and in the event of an unwanted swarm in your backyard, there are a couple of people in San Luis Obispo Country you can call.

The Humble Bumble: Based in downtown San Luis Obispo, Isaac and Ross from The Humble Bumble will remove swarms and give them a good home.  If you are lucky, you might even have an opportunity to visit your hive and taste some of their honey once they are established in their new, comfortable boxes.

The California Bee Company: Jeremy from the California Bee Company, LLC not only offers free swarm removal, but also breeds bees, trains those interested in starting their own apiary, and sells honey, wax, candles, pollen and propolis straight from the hive.  The company is now selling mite-resistant queens that are specially adapted for the Central Coast.

David’s Blue Ribbon Honey: For residents of Arroyo Grande and the Five Cities area, David Maislen of David’s Blue Ribbon Honey, LLC will take care of your colony.  He will do his utmost to save and transport the bees, but if for whatever reason they need to be euthanized, it is done without poisons.  Keep an eye out for his award-winning line of honeys in fine groceries across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Evergreen Landscaping: Tim Vaughan, founder of Evergreen Landscaping and Bee’s Best can take care of your yard, or the honeybees who use it to make a home.  Removal generally costs between $50-100.  He also sells his honey, wax, propolis, and pollen at farmer’s markets in Arroyo Grande.

With so many allies, I am confident that my Nipomo bees are destined for a good home where they can pollinate the many orchards and farms of San Luis Obispo County.  With any luck, I’ll be able to taste their honey on my next trip to the local farmer’s market.  Have any bees in your neighborhood?  Where do you buy your honey?

 

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