cornelius
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tomato problem

I am fairly new to gardening, and this year is my first year to have a real garden. I have three tomato plants which seem to be growing well, and blossoming, but they are producing no fruit (well, my Roma plant has one). My father suggested blossom set spray, which I have been using, but it does not seem to be helping. My grandfather (an accomplished gardener) told me to put tires filled with water around the plants to capture and hold the daytime heat. We have had an inordinate amount of rain so far this summer. After reading some of the other information, I think that I need cages. What else should I do?

opabinia51
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I personaly wouldn't recommend cages unless you have determinate plants (those that are none vining). The best advice I can give you is to leave your plants to be and let the insects pollinate the flowers. If there are no insects around, you could use a q-tip to pollinate them yourself but, I don't think that you would have to do that.

cornelius
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Thanks for the information. How do I determine if a tomato plant is vining or non-vining? Also, I wouldn't have asked the question if this hadn't been going on for some time. The plants have been blossoming for about six weeks now, with no fruit. The blossoms are just turning brown and falling off. It seems unusual, and I can wait longer, but my instincts says that there is something wrong. And, yes, there are plenty of insects around to pollinate. Any other ideas?

opabinia51
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Try the Q-tip method. That will definately pollinate your flowers for you. Though, your plants may have some sort of disease. Only time will tell. Another thing you can do for your plants is feed them with a liquid seaweed fertilizer diluted per the instructions of the container. This will provide the plants with any micronutrients that they are lacking.

Anyone else have some advice?

SquashNUt
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try shaking your plants daily in the morning before it warms up too much out side. That should get them fruiting, unless it is to hot out. That can cause fruit not to set.
North Idaho
Zone 5/6

cornelius
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Thanks for the ideas, I will give them a try!

The Helpful Gardener
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Could be blossom end rot is killing flowers before you see them. Look for brown dessicated flowers and if that's the case try neem oil...

cornelius
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Thanks for the help. It looks like this may be the problem. What exactly is neem oil, where might I find it, and how do I use it?
Thanks again.

The Helpful Gardener
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Any good garden center will have it; it's an extract from an Asian tree that works well as a fungicide (as well as a miticide/insecticide). ALWAYS follow printed directions...

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Grey
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I recently read something where a virus killed off about half of our honeybee population early this past spring, and that is causing all kinds of troubles with tomatoes not producing fruit. I have also heard of the pollen set spray. Seems this year some of us have to do the bee's work for them. :(

SquashNUt
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All you need to do is shake the blossoms. Blossom set spray is for cold weather. I use a fan in my green house to polinate my early tomatoes. A good breeze is all you need.
It is different with sqash where hand polinating might come in handy.
Blossom end rot is found on ripening tomatoes and is caused by low calcium uptake due to improper watering. i don;t think neem is in order here, If it is very hot out where you are the blossoms may have a hard time getting polinated.
North Idaho
Zone 5/6

The Helpful Gardener
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I plant all sorts of plants specifcally to attract bees in my yard, but it's true; NO honey bees at all (while there is a virus as well, most of the kill comes from not one but two different mites; the virus helps finish off the weak ones. ANY honeybees you see are the direct work of beekeepers and we should all start supporting these folk as they are our last stand for reliable pollination (I do have a small batch of bumbles who moved into the elephant statue in the herb garden, so I have some pollinators of my own, but I'd welcome a hive in the neighborhood...)

Scott

opabinia51
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The bees that were killed off were (are) actually an import from Europe. Anyway, there are still a lot of native bees around to pollinate. Mason bees come to mind and there are a plethora of others.

Build little wood boxes with holes drilled in them and hang them around your houses and gardens. (It's a little late now) Mason Bees and other solitary bees will layer their eggs in the holes and you will have a ripe crop of pollinators for the following growing season!

NOTE: make sure that the holes that you drill are clean and free of sawdust. Bees will only lay eggs in a clean, dust free hole.

The Helpful Gardener
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Bumbles like mason bees and their ilk do some pollinating but tend to be more plant specific than honeybees (I've noticed mine stay almost exclusively on the catmint despite the presence of bee balm not two feet away!) Honey bees are a necessity for many crops here in the States; virtually every bee in the country gets shipped to Californa and Washington first thing in spring to pollinate food crops. Even beekeepers in Connecticut are renting to West coast growers! This will mean higher fruit prices for everyone as the fruit sets won't be as prolific and growers need to recoup the cost of renting and shipping hives...So the next time someone tells you non-native invasives don't affect them any... :roll:

opabinia51
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That's interesting, I have read that Mason Bees are not plant specific and are actually extremely important pollinators (especially for Apple trees). Anyway, with the imports gone there are definately a lot less pollinators out there now.

All the better reason to encourage the natives to roost in your gardens, etc. Hopefully, there were(are) some resistant honeybees out there and next year a resistant population will bounce back to replace the delpleted population of honeybees.

I won't get into a rant about antibiotics and pesticides but... I will. My hope is that North American governments won't go on an Antibiotic/peticide rampage trying to eliminate this virus. For one thing, Viruses are none living and therefore antibiotics are of little or no use. Secondly, such substances will only cause more damage than harm (I won't go into specifics). The best bet is to have some resistance in the populations of the bees and the only hope for that is that the bees have not been totally inbred.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

The Helpful Gardener
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I've friends in the Beekeepers' Society here in CT, and they tell me the virus is a secondary attack to weakened bees; the real danger is the mites. ANother NNI attack that threatens (in this case extirpates) wild populations (even if they're NNI's themselves, honeybees were at least useful). Unfortuneately this does affect bottomline of an important industry (food crops), so we can expect a huge and inaappropriate gov't reaction soon...

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