The Q&A Archives: Possible Causes for Poor Production (Tomatoes)

Question: We live in the heart of apple and pear country with literally hundreds of acres of trees around us. Last year, we grew the best foliated garden I have had since I moved off our family turkey farm. But (here comes the problem) we did not get many tomatoes, squash, beans, anything flowering out of the garden. We have never seen a bee near our home. I am afraid we do not get any pollination to take. Are there seeds for vegetables that self pollinate? Is that our problem? Thanks. Stewart Collins Parkdale, OR

Answer: You may be having a pollination problem, though with the orchards around you I would think there would be plenty of bees. Tomatoes, for example, are not pollinated by insects but by wind and/or simple gravity (the pollen simply drops onto the receptive female flower part). So you may have another problem. Too much nitrogen fertilizer can encourage lush growth at the expense of flowers and fruit. Adverse weather can inhibit fertilization -- including excessively wet or dry weather, and cold or hotspells.

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