Ames Free Library

"Where the Community Connects"

The Great Seed Experiment

Hello Gardeners,

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

Thanks to all who are participating in The Great Seed Experiment. Here a few upcoming events:

Watermelon contest:  melons due by September 15

"Maturation reports" for your plants due October 1

Pumpkin contest: pumpkins due by October 15

Want to share photos of your progress? Send them to Lorraine at Results will be posted at the library, on our website and social media, and as part of our blog, A Glimpse of Nature.

Happy gardening!