I have had people ask me when I am growing tomatoes, how I am able to have almost every single flower pollinated to end up with a larger harvest.
Over the last few years, people have noticed that there are less natural pollinators visiting their tomatoes so a lot of their plants produce many flowers, but they are not getting pollinated so they end up with less fruit being developed on the plants.
Ok, well, I am going to give my secret away. I do not rely on natural pollinators to pollinate my plants. I hand pollinate them myself. I have tried several different methods of hand-pollinating, using paintbrushes, q-tips, etc., and I finally found one that works perfectly every single time. I rarely ever have a single flower that doesn't get pollinated anymore.
My miracle pollination tool is a cheap battery-powered electric toothbrush that I purchased at Walmart.
I simply turn the toothbrush on, and lightly touch the back of the brush against the base of the flower as shown in the photo below and hold it there for a few seconds.
Do this to each and every flower on every truss of the plant and you will guarantee a plentiful harvest. Yes, it does take some time to do, especially if you have dozens of plants to pollinate, but the remarkable results are well worth the effort.
The buzzing of the toothbrush mimics the buzzing and vibration of a bee visiting the flower and the vibration causes the pollen to fall and pollinate the flower. It couldn't be any easier, and you will be surprised by the results.
The flowers of the tomato plant naturally face downward as shown in the diagram below.
This downward facing position of the flower places the male reproductive part of the flower which is covered with the pollen, called the Anther, above the female reproductive part of the plant where the pollen needs to be deposited, called the Stigma. In this downward position, gravity allows the pollen to fall onto the stigma to pollinate the flower.
This is why, if you do absolutely nothing at all, and not a single natural pollinator visits your tomato plant, you will still get a small amount of flower pollination to occur, simply through gravity. But we do not want to simply have a few tomatoes, we want to have a bumper-crop, with each and every plant loaded to the maximum with juicy ripe tomatoes at harvest time. And that is exactly what hand-pollination with an electric toothbrush allows to happen.
Remember, not all of the flowers are going to show up at the same time, especially with indeterminate varieties, so be on the lookout for new flowers to pop up throughout the growing season and keep your electric toothbrush handy to make sure they all get pollinated.
One way that you can tell if a flower got pollinated or not is if the flower falls off of the plant.
If a flower does not get pollinated, the flower head will come detached from the plant at the base of the flower and fall to the ground. If the flower got pollinated, it will not fall off.
Well, that's it for this quick tip.
Until Next Time,
Aloha & 73