The Q&A Archives: Tomatoes

Question: I tried to raise tomatoes from seed without much luck. I ended up with one very healthy plant and I bought a dozen seedlings in the spring, Burpee better boy, roma tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. The harvest has been wonderful except for one plant. It is now 7 feet tall, looks much healthier than all the others and has many many flowers but no tomatoes. The flowers eventually just fall off but no tomatoes. I suspect this may be the one plant I raised from seed, so it might be the only Burpee

Answer: The cherry tomatoes are very reliable in setting fruit, with the cherry tomatoes being probably the easiest tomatoes to grow. They tend to be early fruiting, say about 60 days. The Big Boy tomato is an indeterminate and can easily grow over 6 feet tall. It is listed as taking about 78 days to harvest, several days longer than Better Boy. It should fruit until frost, once it gets going.

If it is a seedling you grew yourself, it may be slightly behind purchased transplants due to cultural conditions. Since it is flowering, it must be growing well and may just be a matter of time.

Sometimes flowers will drop prematurely or without setting fruit due to moisture stress (make sure the soil is evenly moist), or due to overfertilization with nitrogen, or due to extreme temperatures -- such as an extended heat spell (days over 90) or extra warm nights (over 80) or even extra cold nights can cause flowers to drop.

Tomatoes do not need insects for pollination. Instead, they are shaken by the wind. You can try giving the plant a shake for about half a minute once or twice a day to dislodge the pollen, just in case this particular plant is in a very still location. This problem is more common in container grown plants than out in the garden, but I suppose it is a possibility.

It's good you grew several different kinds of tomatoes. Different varieties will respond differently to the growing conditions each year. Some years one type will just do better or worse than the others, or maybe a good performer just will not do as well as usual.

I hope this helps!

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