Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"

A Glimpse of Nature -- Progress Report

Here’s the latest news.

Part 1:  The Robin.

If you recall, last Friday a dramatic thunderstorm passed through our region. It began to sprinkle as I headed to my car; soon there was a deluge. As I readied myself for the commute, I looked towards the robin’s nest and wondered how it would fare through heatwave and storm. That’s when an adult bird zipped around the library at breakneck speed.  It needed to protect the nest.

After a long weekend, I was relieved to see a parent still visiting the nest and to hear some quiet chirping.


Feeding, August 10, 2022

At least two chicks hatched! This short video shows how they looked and acted today. Look closely, for one of the birds is a bit shy.


They are growing rapidly and will soon leave the nest. Over the next two weeks, don’t be alarmed by flightless fledglings near the library’s entrance. Every robin goes through this, and soon enough, they’ll be on their way.

Part 2:  The Tomatoes

The heirloom Black Krim tomatoes are certainly robust plants. Planted on April 18, and nurtured by the circulation staff, the plants have become enormous and very healthy.


The “Seedlings,” August 2, 2022

For a long while, they produced abundant flowers but no fruit. The flowers would bloom and then fall off. One visitor implied that our plants were attractive failures. I started to worry that our demonstration was, too. This called for intervention!  

Tomatoes are wind pollinated plants. Was there too much wind? Not enough? Were our plants struggling because they were living on a wall, isolated from other vegetation and insects? Much to my chagrin, plants from that same batch of seedlings were producing fruit in my home garden.  Research on the subject didn’t help until I read that bumblebees sometimes assist the process of pollination by vibrating their wings which, apparently, simulates wind. I displayed a bouquet of bumblebee favorites near the tomatoes and then I tried a preposterous suggestion: I acted like a bumblebee by touching the tomato flowers with an electric toothbrush. I did this discreetly, for I already have the reputation of being eccentric. It seemed plain foolish until one of the flowers released a burst of pollen in response to the vibrations. I brushed more of them. Soon, both plants were cranking out fruit.  


Fruiting Begins, August 2, 2022

They will ripen late in the season, but at least they’re making progress.  

The staff would love to know how your tomato plants are doing, especially the Black Krim seedlings we sold in June.  Next time you visit the library, stop by the main desk to share your gardening stories.


Black Krim Heirlooms, Lou and Lorraine’s Home Garden, August 11, 2022

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Submitted by David E Fairbanks on

I wish I known about this little trick with the tooth brush. Most of my blossums also dried up during the hot summer. I ended up with only 4 or 5 fruit.

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