Pollination is the most important aspect for your garden to produce edible fruit. We have created this guide to the question: do tomatoes need to be pollinated in aquaponics systems?
Every single vegetable-producing plant needs pollination. Pollination is the act of transferring pollen from a male flower to a female flower. The special pollen from each flower needs to mix in order to be fertilized.
Once female flowers are fertilized, they then continue on to produce fruit. This same process happens with tomatoes. So, Do tomatoes need to be pollinated in aquaponics systems?
The short answer is yes! Every plant requires pollination. Keep reading to understand more about tomato pollination and the different methods you can use.
Everything You Need To Know About Tomato Pollination
We all love the delicious tomato fruit. It can be used to make red sauces or eaten fresh on a salad. But, do you know how tomatoes actually grow?
The tomato plant is an annual vegetable. This means that once it produces fruit, it dies. The only way to continue growing tomatoes is to remove the seed from the fruit and re-plant.
There are so many different varieties of tomatoes. You can find very small bitesize cherry tomatoes to large beefsteak tomatoes that are the size of your hand. Each variety has unique characteristics that you need to pay attention to in order to grow it most successfully.
Some varieties are considered bush plants and do not require extra support to stand. However, most tomatoes need some sort of trellis in order for them to grow best.
The branches are thick and heavy. If you do not support them, they will topple over causing the fruit to get damaged. It is important that you do not skip this step if you want to have tasty tomatoes on your dinner plate.
According to the University of Minnesota, tomatoes are among the most popular vegetables to have in-home gardens around the United States. If you are doing aquaponics, it is likely that you will be interested in growing tomatoes at some point.
Tomatoes can self-pollinate. This means that on each tomato plant, there are male and female flowers.
You do not need to specifically grow a male plant or a female plant. One plant has it all!
Pollinators will hop amongst these flowers to create the fruit. Another useful pollinator is the wind itself! It can blow pollen out of one flower, so it lands into the other.
How To Pollinate Tomatoes By Hand
Sometimes people have a problem where their plants are flowering, but not turning into fruit. This is usually due to a pollination issue. Perhaps there is not a biodiverse ecosystem or enough wind to provide adequate pollination.
However, it could be related to other reasons.
Another reason your tomatoes may not be pollinating properly could be due to the outside temperature. If there are very high temperatures in the day and night, the pollen can be rendered inactive.
Secondly, if the air is extremely humid, pollen can get gummed up in flower. This means it will not be available to fall naturally.
If you are noticing this issue with your tomatoes, you can try to pollinate by hand. Hand pollination is basically when humans mimic what nature does.
In a tomato, each flower contains both the male and female parts. When the wind hits the tomato, the pollen is shaken down and falls from the male part, and enters the female part.
The male part has the filament and another which contains the pollen. Underneath it is the female part which contains the ovaries and stigma.
If you want to hand pollinate, you can first try to simply shake the plant. Tomato pollination usually happens in the morning to early afternoon. You do not need to shake the plant too hard.
Wait until a warmer, sunny day to try this method. If shaking doesn’t work, you can use something that will vibrate the plant.
Some people suggest using an electric toothbrush to cause enough vibration to activate the movement of the pollen. In order to know if your pollination attempt was successful, you will have to look carefully at the flower.
Pollinated tomato flowers will begin to wilt within one day of pollination. Also, the hair in the middle of the flower will first turn dark and get smaller in size.
When you are ready to pollinate, try to consistently make attempts every few days. This will increase the chances that something takes.
What If My Tomato Plants Are Not Flowering?
Of course, in order to reach the pollination stage, you need flowers. But what if your tomato plants are not flowering? This means you have a problem with your soil nutrition.
It has affected the vegetative stage and now the life cycle is off balance. In most cases, the main reason your tomato plants are not flowering is because your soil contains too much Nitrogen.
You will know that it has too much nitrogen if it has a lot of green leaves but no flowers. Other reasons tomato plants may not flower is not enough sunlight, water, or general poor soil conditions.
After reading this article, you should know the answer to the important question: Do tomatoes need to be pollinated in an aquaponics system?
Tomatoes are a lovely choice for aquaponics, but you need to know how they work in order to grow them successfully. Pollination is essential to convert flowers to fruit. This part can never be skipped!
It is best that you start your tomato seeds outside of your aquaponics grow beds. Once they grow their second set of true leaves, you can transplant them into your bed.
Be sure to do your research on which variety will suit your climate best. If you really want to be sustainable, save some seeds from your tomato fruit to re-plant again. When you do this, the plant becomes the gift that keeps giving.
Feel free to ask questions and comment below!
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