Nursery Notes: Getting the most from tomato plants

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I had a customer come into the nursery the other day and ask about a spray to improve his tomato plant’s fruit set. I know they make a product that has some fertilizer in it that is supposed to improve fruit set but I don’t carry any. Good flower pollination on a tomato can be achieved by gently tapping the flower truss with your fingertip between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the humidity is somewhere between 60 and 70 per cent. This helps the pollen grains disseminate.

If the crop load is really heavy, Epsom salts will help keep the leaves healthy and prevent a magnesium deficiency. Calcium from bone meal incorporated at planting will help prevent your tomato fruit from getting kblossom end rot if used in conjunction with consistent watering when in fruit production.

Another customer was asking after apricots from the orchard. We have five kinds growing but only three set fruit really well. She was telling me that her neighbour’s apricot trees had no fruit and that she thought that it was because of poor pollination. This is quite possible but because apricot flowers open up earlier than other fruit trees they are more subject to frost damage and, therefore, no fruit. Call it frost burn on the flowers. Our early varieties Goldbar and Goldstrike have produced very well this year but I don’t see any fruit on the Moorpark and Perfection varieties. The much later Tilton seem to have set fruit but are still green.

We have five hives of bees not far from the apricots, one old hive that hung on from last year and four really vigorous ones that came in from New Zealand this spring. Last week, they were liberated of several hundred pounds of very clear and great tasting honey. This weekend, they will lose some more.

While the recent spat of wet weather in which we had over 85 millimetres of rainfall over two days was really hard on my cherry crop, it was great for the honey production. I imagine the wild huckleberries will have benefited from it, as well. The interesting thing about all this cool and wet weather we had earlier in the year is that because the bloom time in the orchard was so spread out, only the earlier cherry fruit has split while the later ones remain largely untouched by the unsettled weather.

Hoping for another couple of hot weeks!

Evan and Wendy Davies own Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.