Why Don’t I Get Any Tomatoes?

June 21, 2010 | By | Comments (10)



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.

Thanksgiving 2007 015 Nevertheless, bro, there are several things you can do to increase your tomato crop.

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.


  1. bo porter

    This is where i learned to protect my tomatoes with diatomaceous earth. http://www.diatomaceousearth.com/organic-pest-control-for-tomatoes/

    November 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm
  2. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Have you fertilized it a lot? Giving it too much nitrogen encourages wild vegetative growth at the expense of flowers. Also, some varieties are later to flower and produce than others.

    June 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm
  3. Preacherman

    Dear Grumpy; I have a beautiful tomato plant.
    But no flowers, consequently no tomatoes. WHY?

    June 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    I would spread diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants. This product is made from the shells of microscopic sea creatures. It cuts the skins of caterpillars and other insects and they die of dehydration. It is very safe to use and easy to apply. You can buy it from: http://www.ghorganics.com/DiatomaceousEarth.html

    July 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm
  5. Oleta Payne

    My Heirloom tomatoes have begun to produce huge tomatoes. But, there is a small black “worm” with white around it that is eating the roots and the zuchinni roots. I haven’t been able to find a picture of “worm” on the internet. Because the plants are growing large produce, I am unsure what to do. Would some sort of spray be safe to spray around the plants. If so what would that be?

    July 4, 2010 at 11:32 am
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Look for my flawless and expert advice on this subject by clicking on this link: http://grumpygardener.southernliving.com/grumpy_gardener/2010/05/its-hydrangea-time.html

    June 30, 2010 at 10:47 am
  7. Suzy Mauney

    Looking for Easy Hydrangea Growing Tips as quoted in SL issue July 2010 under southernliving.com/plants. Can not find. Need as we have hydrangeas to plant and need to know how to do this without hurting the plants. Thank you.

    June 29, 2010 at 11:56 am
  8. Cameron (Defining Your Home)

    Grump — I had to look at that photo several times to make sure you hadn’t grown a goatee and turned orange.

    June 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm
  9. Aunty Matter

    And after following yer advice, I now have tons of tomatoes.

    June 21, 2010 at 11:57 am
  10. Aunty Matter

    “Go ahead, mock my glow,”
    he said, while enjoying a second big ol’ V8.

    June 21, 2010 at 11:56 am

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