Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tickling Tomatoes

What do you do when there ain't all that many pollinators around?
Well you try and rectify the situation by planting all those lovely plants that attract the pollinators, flowering species that are indigenous to the area is a good start, buying a beehive and a trainee queen is also a great move. If you don't have the room or knowledge or just want a tomato or two on your balcony then you may have to do some of the dirty work yourself. Every flower on a tomato, or eggplant, or pepper etc. is the precursor to a fruit and when the flower is pollinated the flower dies off and a fruit forms in its place (left pic of new Turkish orange eggplant fruit with dried up flower on end), quite simply the more flowers pollinated the more fruit you'll get. The pollinator, i.e. Mr Bee, transfers pollen from flower to flower thus pollinating the flower and allowing the fruit to form. So enough about the birds and the bees, ART or Assisted Reproductive Technology for plants involves a fine little paint brush (top right pic) and fine motor skills. All that needs to be done is a gentle brush of the stamen (bottom right pic) of each flower, moving from plant to plant, flower to flower doing Mr Bee's job for him. I find that making a soft buzzing noise as you do it helps also...

Cheers Aldrum

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