So the extra cool weather and wet conditions this summer in the Bay Area have left many gardeners vegetable plants in a less than productive state. Hot weather lovers like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons don’t necessarily want to come out an join the party when its cool outside. We only just recently got our first ripe tomatoes which is not normal for our hot mountain climate. A recent newsletter from a local farm made me realize why this is happening and reminded me of a little trick to give your tomatoes the extra edge in fruit production. Give em’ a little flick. Yep you read that right. Flick your tomato blossoms just as they open and you will be doing a lot of the hard work for them.
Did you know that Tomatoes are self pollinating? Most people don’t realize that. When a tomato blossom opens it doesn’t rely on the birds and the bee’s, it takes care of business itself. If you give the blossom a gentle nudge, the pollen will release itself and start the flower on its way to becoming a fruit. If your tomato plants just have blossoms and no fruit, try this little trick and see what happens.
Tomatoes need a lot of extra attention to get to their full potential. In addition to a good flick every once in a while, try giving your tomato a haircut. The tomato blossoms and fruit on the inside of the plant may never see the light of day or the cool breeze they need to grow big and juicy. Trim the some leaves here and there to let some sunlight and air into the center of the plant. Remove all of the leaves from the bottom 6-12 inches of the plant to let the base of the stems get some air and put more energy towards the blossoms and fruits. Tomatoes need something to lean on too. Most of us use tomato cages to keep our plants up off the ground. When they get heavy with fruit they can fall over in just the lightest of breezes. Use a stake or a piece of re-bar attached to every other cage and tie them together with some twine to keep them from blowing over.
Basically, it takes a lot of work to make a tomato plant happy. But just think of all the delicious treats you will have once you have that bounty of fruit to pick.