The following question of great interest comes from Grumpy’s younger brother, Mondo.
“Grump, my 7 week-old ‘Better Boy’ tomato plants have tons of blooms, but exactly one tomato. Whyzat, oh wise one?”
First, Mondo, let me criticize your poor grammar. It is incorrect to say that tomatoes have ”tons of blooms.” Tomatoes may have many blooms or a hundred blooms or even a thousand blooms, but not tons. Ton is a measure of weight, not a number. Your blunder has embarrassed our entire family.
1. Don’t fertilize too much. Too much nitrogen makes lots of leaves and few tomatoes.Growing in good soil containing lots of organic matter is better than fertilizing.
2. For indeterminate tomatoes like ‘Better Boy’ (“indeterminate” means the plant keeps growing and producing over a long period), try pruning out the suckers that sprout from the crotches between side branches and main stem. These suckers will eventually flower, and leaving them on will ultimately produce more fruit. But letting them grow will also delay fruiting of the main plant.
3. Tomato flowers are self-pollinating, but yours aren’t doing the job. So take over. Use a toothbrush or small paint brush to gently brush each flower, transferring pollen from the stamens to the pistils. You can also give your plants a good shake from time to time. Or let them watch a few episodes of “The Tudors.” That should put them in the right mood.
4. Keep in mind that most tomato plants fail to set fruit once daytime temperatures rise above 95 degrees and night temps exceed 78 degrees. Those that bear up under the heat include ‘Atkinson,’ ‘Heatwave,’ ‘Ozark Pink,’ ‘Solar Fire,’ ‘Solar Set,’ ‘Sunmaster,’ ‘Sure Fire,’ and ‘Arkansas Traveler.’
Well, Mondo, I hope you learned something besides the fact that pigs fly in Cincinnati. Click here for even more expert info about growing tomatoes this year.
The Great Pumpkin
In an unrelated story, Mondo has discovered one of the many pitfalls of trying to eat healthy. He has been gorging himself with copious amounts of foods high in beta-carotene, such as carrots and sweet potatoes. The end result is that his skin has taken on a distinctly orange glow. I don’t know if this is permanent, but if it is, we will have fun fun carving his head for Halloween.