The Scoop from Illinois Valley Garden Club: by Frank Cordeiro

You say tomato, I say tomato
People love to grow tomatoes so I thought I’d take some time to share some tips on growing tomatoes.
Tomatoes are tropical plants and need a long growing season. That is why we usually start from transplants rather than seed. It gives us a head start.
This year I did both. I have fourplants that I bought in 4-inch pots and I have a patch of tomatoes that I started directly from seed sown in the garden and, although I started the seeds late in the season, they are growing fast and look much healthier than the transplanted ones.
One of the tricks to buying transplants is to avoid plants with fruit or flowers already on them. I personally have a hard time with this and keep thinking about how soon I might have a tomato, instead of how I want a strong healthy plant that will produce all season long.
The climate crisis, with our new hot summers, will affect our tomatoes. When temperatures are over 90° you might see flowers form but then just drop off the plant. Providing shade during the hottest part of the day with a shade cloth might help.
Catch 22… If your plants have lush foliage but few flowers, it might be that they are shaded too much. Tomatoes also need 40-70% humidity. If humidity is low, flowers will form, but the pollen will not stick, and few fruits will form.
Another cause of lots of flowers and few fruit could be a lack of pollinators. Tomatoes can pollinate themselves, but you get more fruit when pollinators (especially bumblebees) are present. If needed, you can hand pollinate tomatoes with a small paint brush or by tapping on the plant supports.
If you save seeds, you can use the paint brush to mix pollen between two of your favorite varieties and create your own variety!
When you pick your tomatoes, put them on a counter shelf. If you put them in the refrigerator they will lose the flavor and texture that is the main reason we grow them.