Gardening Tip: Help Tomatoes Produce Even in the Phoenix Desert

Assisted Pollination of an Eggplant Flower

I recently read a stat somewhere that said that some 80% (give or take, I don’t remember the exact number) of us like growing tomatoes over anything else.  That’s pretty astounding, considering that we live in one of the most inhospitable climates for growing tomatoes:  the Phoenix desert!

Especially at this time of year, things in our desert gardens start looking a little…well, sad.  Tomatoes, especially.  If your tomatoes are flowering, but forgetting to set fruit, there’s an easy explanation:  It’s just too dang hot!  Like the rest of us, tomatoes don’t like to work too hard when temps get above 90 degrees.

Lucky for us, there’s an easy gardening tip:  pollinate them yourself for a robust summer crop.  Just go out in the early morning hours and give tomato plants a couple of gentle shakes.  If you want to be more thorough, grab a small paintbrush, toothbrush, bottle brush — some kind of brush — and use it to gently transfer pollen from one flower to the next.  In no time, you’ll have more tomatoes than you can use which, in my mind, is a good problem to have!

By the way, tomatoes aren’t the only fruiting plants that take time off in the summer.  Corn, cucumbers, squash, melons, eggplant, and others all need some form of human intervention to produce fruit.  So start shakin’!


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