Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Pollinator

    As a youngster I worked in my grandfather’s big commercial greenhouse where he grew tomatoes.  He had a hand-held battery-powered contraption that always intrigued us kids.  It had a 5 inch (12 cm) long stout wire protruding from its end, and when you pressed a button the wire would vibrate.  It was used to “buzz” the tomato flowers.  It made them vibrate thus pollinating them.
    In my own small greenhouse usually the tomatoes pollinate themselves, but I have noticed that there sometimes seems to be periods when the flowers don’t get pollinated.  I heard on a garden show that if you vibrate the tomato plants before 7:00 in the morning that would cause pollination.  In past years I would go out and bang on the overhead wires that support the plants with a hoe handle to make sure they pollinated.
    Last year while listening to CBC radio they were discussing growing tomatoes in greenhouses up in Innuit communities in the Canadian far-north.  The question was asked how the plants got pollinated because of the lack of insects.  The reply was that they used electric toothbrushes to do the job.  
    “Good idea,” I thought, so this year I have been using an old electric toothbrush to “buzz” my tomato flowers, just to make sure they all get pollinated.  
    Of course it takes a while for the flower petals to drop and the tomato fruit to slowly form, so I don’t know for sure how well it is working, but it seems like it ought to.

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