by - May 16, 2009

Earlier we discussed how bees typically pollinate squash plants by carrying pollen from the male flower to the female flower. The pollination by hand is going well. The flowers I missed earlier fell off along with the ovaries, but the ones I pollinated are nearly ripe for picking.

This week my tomato plants have been blossoming, but I have not seen any fruit begin to form and am concerned because there are no bees buzzing around. Last year I got no tomatoes from my Better Boys because the flowers never set fruit (drought and no bees?), so I decided to try and pollinate by hand this year. However, I couldn't see the pollen! It was all trapped inside the flower.

Through a little research, I found out that many tomatoes are self-pollinating. The wind shakes the plant and the pollen falls off the stamen and onto the stigma. Some tomatoes benefit from the help of bumble bees. Bumble bees pollinate tomatoes by planting their feet on the flowers and vibrating them. Apparently, honey bees aren't up to the job - it must be bumble bees. I am not sure what the bumble bees get out of it, but the tomatoes get an abundant crop.

In April, we had an abundance of bumble bees on the Carolina Jasmine, but all the rain seems to have washed them away. I am not sure which type my tomatoes are (self-pollinating or by bumble bee) - I have 8 types, so I am going to employ the help of a vibrating toothbrush with "full motion pulsating head" and "power whitening". No, I don't know what power whitening will accomplish. Several bloggers suggest using vibrating toothbrushes and claim they great success with them. I'll let you know!

Addendum: I should probably state how I am doing this. I take the tooth brush and place it on the backside of the flower (so as not to harm the flower) and let it vibrate for about two seconds. Some garden bloggers vibrate each flower, some just do the cluster. Right now, I'm doing each flower, but I would guess as the flowers increase I will be focusing on the clusters.

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  1. Dear Paige,
    Please post something new so I can view your blog at work and not feel paranoid that someone will see the post title "Vibrators" over my shoulder and make assumptions.




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