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Tomato Pollination – How To Pollinate Your Tomatoes

Tomato Pollination is usually left up to the bees.  Since each yellow tomato blossom has both  male and female parts, the tomato is considered a “self-fertilizing” plant.   All the bee has to to is flutter it’s wings around the blossoms, which causes the blossoms to vibrate, and waaa laaa… tomatoes are born.  Almost!  There are a few other factors to consider, one is temperature.  Tomatoes love the night time heat between 60 and 70 degrees.  If the temperature falls below 60 or above 75 it interferes with the growth of the pollen.  Also, if the weather is to damp or too dry…it interferes with the pollination.

Now, I like to help Mother Nature’s bees along by pollinating my own tomato plants.  Follow along and I’ll teach you how to pollinate your tomatoes.

First, I grow container tomatoes  and I have cherry, grape and regular tomatoes. The containers sit on casters so I can roll them around if I need to.  Tomato plants  need at least 8 hours of sunshine.  I water them every day because they dry out easily because the container exposes  the soil to extra heat.  When tomatoes begin to appear, I fertilize them once a week.  It keeps the blossoms coming.  Now if your have a regular tomato garden… this regiment may be difficult to follow.

tomato-blossoms

Grape and cherry tomatoes have clusters of blossoms, and when when the bees come around fluttering their wings a lot of blossoms get pollinated at one time.

green-tomatoe-cluster2

Successful  bee pollination produces lots of tomatoes on one stem, like the grape and cherry tomatoes.

ripe-cherry-tomatoes

And, it produces an abundance of tomatoes for salads or just to pop into your mouth one at at time.

tomatoblossoms1

Regular tomatoes have fewer blossoms in a cluster. When is a blossom ready to be pollinated?

When the tomato blossom is wide open, the yellow petals turned back and the flower is  pointing down, the blossom is ready for pollination.

Here are the male and female parts.

The bees flutter their wings or a wind blows, causing the pollen to come out of the straw through the Antlers on to the Carpels or Ovary.

many-tomatoes1

If the tomato pollination is successful, you’ll get an abundance of tomatoes on one tomato plant.

tomato-blossoms1

Now, I help tomato pollination  along by gently tapping the blossom stem, causing a vibration.  From all I can find, the best time to do this is mid-day, around noon.  Not earlier  than 10:00 and not later than 4:00.  Some folks have been know to use a battery powered tooth brush because it’s vibration is suppose to simulate the bee’s wings.  I’ve never been that particular.  I just give the stem a little shake so the pollen will fall out of the male straw and fall on the end of the blossom.

Now some say this is all  “folk lore… or myth.”  Who know?  My experience is, I have one heck of a lot of tomatoes on my plants which I didn’t had  before hand pollinating.

So give it a try because  the tomato harvest is just beginning and you have the rest of the summer, into the fall, to see if this pollination process works for you.

You can watch the video… to see this procedure in action.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  I’ve already pick my first tomato, wiped it on my shirt and with my salt shaker in hand,  give it a dash of salt and popped the whole thing in my mouth at once.  Mmmmmm.  Is this heaven?

P.P.S.  I may not look like it but I removed a lot of leaves from my tomato plants.  Looking at these photos it reminds me it’s time to remove a few more leaves. Taking leaves off will give your blossoms a greater change of being pollinated by bees and more energy goes to grown the tomato rather than the leaves.

Also, I read about a farmer who walks down the furrows of his tomato garden with a stick and gives the plants a shake.  He claims his tomatoes produce  50 percent more yield.

P.P.P.S.  One more thing.  A woman standing next to me at the nursery says she give her tomatoes a shot of Epson Salts a couple of times a season.  1 TB to a gallon of water will do the trick.  She claims it sweetens the tomatoes as well as encourages greater tomato production.  She said, “Tomatoes love acid and the Epson Salts provides it.   Haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m heading to the store for my Epson Salts.

Harvest Time For Tomatoes

Harvest time for Tomatoes is generally from the third week in July until the frost takes them in the fall. So… the minute the tomatoes are ready to pick I’m right there with my salt shaker.

Tomatoes piled high in bushel baskets would sit on our back porch waiting for my mom to put up them into bottles. The minute mom’s back was turned, the big dark red juicy one on the top vanished into my pocket. With salt shaker in hand, I would duck behind the fence and take my first bite of the season. Oh my… what a glorious moment… juice running down my hand and all. To this day… my first tomato of the year is eaten warm…and whole. I manage to control the juice.

In the old days, we could pick a bushel at Camilla Holdaway’s tomato patch for $.50. After my marriage, a bushel of tomatoes was still a great deal at $1.50. Now, your lucky to get a bushel for under $15.00. Not hardly worth bottling at that price.

Oh my gosh… did I ever bottle tomatoes. Whole Tomatoes,Stewed Tomatoes, Spaghetti Sauce, Ketchup, Salsa, Snappy Tom, Tomato Juice, Chili Sauce, Green Tomato Relish. At least 8 to 10 bushels were bottled every year…and at that time, only two little boys were there to help us eat it all. Some how it all vanished by spring.

We even tried to plan our 4th child around the tomatoes season. We wanted a new baby… but not in September when the tomatoes were on! But… you guessed it… Katie was born on Sept 19th. God… in his great wisdom… knew I wouldn’t be canning tomatoes forever.

I still love a fresh picked tomato with salt. This year, when my single tomato plant in my container garden produced tomatoes, the watch was on for the red color to appear. I counted the days until one tomato was just the perfect red…than snap. No cooling off in the fridge and sliced nicely on a plate… no, no. My salt shaker and I appeared at the garden’s edge. A tomato just tastes different when it’s a bit warm and you eat it right from the vine. It’s just the best.

When September rolls around, and the sky is that wonderful azure blue, and there is a bit of fall in the air, the old hankering to bottle tomatoes comes upon me. My Chili Sauce is to die for and the Tomato Juice just can’t be beat. Hmmmm….just maybe….

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Now that the tomato harvest is on… it’s time for Spicy Tomato and Bean Fiesta. Recipe coming soon!

Container Gardening: Growing Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes in a container is a great way to have fresh tomatoes even if you live in a condo, an apartment, or just like having them on your patio for show. Frankly… I just love tomatoes no matter how or where there grown. Mmmmm! A red, ripe, juicy tomato… picked right off the vine and warmed by the sun. Nothing like it. And… of course…lots of salt. And…fresh tomato slices with cheese, basil, and vinegar is just the very best… my mouth is watering already… And… stuffed tomatoes… And… on and on.

Get busy and grow your own… they sure beat the one’s you buy in the store. Notice I have couple of tomatoes on my vine already… and I just planted it a week ago!

There are a few tomato growing tips for your container garden:

1. Find a nice size tomato plant! Down with those dinky little things…. start it out big. I found one that already had a tomato in the making. You can find container tomatoes… but I just found a regular tomato called “Celebrity”… nice flavor and it produces well.

2. Find a container with good drainage. You’ll need at least a 12 qt. size.

3. Pick up a bag of Miracle Grow Garden Soil (fertilizer included)…. Not Potting Soil. Because the vine bears heavy fruit… you’ll need the soil to be a little more firm than the potting soil can provide.

4. Mix a bit of perlite to the soil. This holds the moisture. (About 1 qt. perlite to 12 qts. of soil.)

5. Plant the tomato covering the bottom set of leaves. I know this seems strange but any stem below the soil line will root…. giving the vine a sturdy base.

6. Prune off sucker leaves… the small cluster of leaves in the crotch of the stems.

7. Water. Tomatoes like to be watered when the soil is dry. Important to be consistent.

8. You can stake your tomato with a rod..or a stick. (I just cut up an old nylon and tie the plant to the stake.) Oh by the way… if you want to pollinate the plant yourself… just tap the stake a few times and the pollen will fall.

9. Your tomato will need at least 8 hours of sun a day. No problem! Set your container on a rolling plant coaster and move it to the sun.

Hope you find the video helpful. Have a good time growing your tomato garden in a container. Happy harvest!