The Q&A Archives: Not One Tomato

Question: Dear Charlie,
Last summer I planted one tomato plant, Big Boy, along the south side of the house, so deer wouldn't eat it. It grew tall and bloomed, but did not bear one tomato. What did I do wrong? Should I have planted more than one plant? What does determinate vs indeterminate mean? Any suggestions to deter deer from eating the plant?

Answer: You do not need two tomato plants to get tomatoes. Since the plant bloomed but did not bear tomatoes I would suspect a pollination problem, possibly due to lack of insects. You might try using a paint brush to pollinate if you think that was the problem. It is also possible that the unusual weather we had caused the blossoms to drop. You could try one of the commercial blossom set products if you think that might have been the problem. Also be sure the plant is growing in rich soil that is kept evenly moist but not soggy to try to reduce sources of possible stress. As far as deer go, some gardeners report success using the repellent sprays, but in my experience a fence is the most reliable protection. Finally, a determinate plant will set just so many blossoms, usually pretty much at the same time, and then stop producing. This is good if you plan to can or otherwise preserve them because the tomatoes are ready close together. Indeterminate plants will keep blooming and producing all season until either frosted or exhausted, whichever comes first.

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