HELEN LANG: Cuddling-up leads to pollination

Looking out my third floor window is a delight. Mind you, there is a constant parade of traffic but you just have to ignore that

Looking out my third floor window is a delight. Mind you, there is a constant parade of traffic but you just have to ignore that and look beyond.

Directly across is another condo. It has gardens in front of each unit and in each of these is a dogwood tree in full bloom. I love dogwoods and had one on Melissa Street. I wonder if it is flowering right now. It had a lot of competition in that garden but when I planted it, I knew that dogwoods often grew successfully in the shade with a mixture of other trees, so I’m hoping it is fine. It is a bit early to phone and find out it’s state of health.

My eldest daughter is about to go off on a guided tour of China, so she won’t be here to take me to a nursery to buy plants for several weeks. It is too early to plant these outside anyway but I want three tomato seedlings of three different varieties, one Big Boy, one Early Girl and one Celebrity. These will be planted together in a five gallon pot with a stake in the centre to provide support when (hopefully) they are heavy with fruit.

This cuddling-up guarantees pollination. Mind you, it is good practice to tap the plants when they are in bloom (not too hard, please!) to scatter the pollen about so each bloom gets a whiff of that necessary dust. It’s not ideal to crowd tomatoes so tightly together but when you have no other choice, you do what you gotta’ do and say a small prayer for success.

Extra watering and fertilizing seems to help. In an open garden you can plant them further apart of course, (two or two-and-a-half feet is ideal) and a tomato cage set in when they are planted saves your sanity later when they have spread their branches far and wide.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

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