Frugal Gardening: Where are all the tomatoes?

Houston, we have a problem.

Lots of tomato plants, a few little yellow flowers, and no tomatoes. None! That, my friends, is a problem for this BLT lovin’ girl.

We’ve sprayed them with sugar water to attract insects, but I don’t know what else to do.  Any suggestions?

In other news, it’s dry here.

Really dry. I refuse to complain though, considering I’m not a farmer depending on rain for his livelihood, and I’m not a flood victim.  I’m just a (not very good) hobby gardener who probably needs to pull the hose out a little more often!

With or without moisture, there is this.

And lots of it!  I’ve got one summer squash plant thriving, plus another mystery plant in the mulch pit that ended up being summer squash!  Cheesy squash casserole, sauteéd in bacon grease, fried… how do you like your squash?

Be sure to check out my friends’ gardens over at Getting Freedom and Smockity Frocks, then link up your own!



  1. I love breaded squash!

  2. Try chicken manure on the ground around plant.:D and maybe egg shells crumbled around on the ground for squash.

  3. You could take a q-tip and do the bees job for them if you’re desperate. It would take a lot of work with how many plants you have though. I’ve done it before when I was growing tomatoes inside in the winter and it worked. I’ve also heard that it works better to use an electric toothbrush because the vibrations mimic a bee and it pollinates better, but I haven’t tried this.

  4. If it is really hot the blooms will not set fruit….tomatoes can’t handle really hot days and nights…..

  5. That’s the question I’ve also been asking!! I have 10 tomato plants and very few flowers and absolutely no hint of a tomato! I keep asking anyone that will listen and no one has an answer for me… I hope someone here can come up with some advice!

  6. My kids love our squash and zucchini steamed and then tossed with a little butter. They devour the stuff!

    As for the tomatoes… go beat them up! Seriously, my plants weren’t doing well until we had a hail storm come through and beat them up pretty good… a week or so later they were covered in flowers, and now I’m loaded with tomatoes, still waiting for them to start ripening though! I’ve heard lots of similar tomato stories, and how after a good “whoopin” they took off and had the best producing years ever. 🙂

  7. Michelle says:

    I agree with the q tip idea… my mother does this with great success..

  8. One year I had two beautiful tomato plants. I was so proud of them lush and tall nearly 5 feet. To tall I thought. hmmm Not very many tomatoes. I read that I had to change the ph balance of the soil. It has to much of something. Maybe nitrogen I can’t remember.

  9. We put coffee grounds and eggshells around the base of each plant and if it’s really dry I would water them with a sprinkler. That’s what we did and we’re now loaded with tomatoes.
    As for that yellow squash I have a very yummy recipe that I like to make. I cube the squash and some red potatoes and saute them in a skillet with butter until they are just starting to get soft and then add a can of rotel and put in a baking dish and cover with cheese. I usually bake it at 350 for around 45 min. Depends on how soft you let your stuff in the skillet get. But it is so delicious.

  10. Your tomato plants look very healthy from the pictures, otherwise I’d suggest it may be thrips or a tomato hornworm. Thrips (a non-visible to the human eye bug) will make the buds fall off, but the tomato plant will also show other stress – leaves browning and looking very dirty. Tomato hornworms just eat and eat and eat leaves, stems, buds… you’d have some bare stems and probably notice if that was happening.

    Oh, something else I just remembered. Tomatoes don’t like mulch around their feet. I don’t know if that would keep them from blossoming, though. Anyhoo, at least your plants looks great 😉

    • Hmmm, so you think we should rake up the straw?

      • I would probably just pull it back a bit, away from the stems. I really don’t think that would keep them from blooming. How old are your plants? Maybe they just haven’t gotten to the point of blooming yet? I’d just hang in there, keep watering them and hopefully one day you’ll walk out to see lots of blooms 🙂

  11. Amanda Y. says:

    I’d love your cheesy squash casserole recipe! My neighbor also doesn’t have hardly any blooms–I would hand pollinate a few and see if that takes, otherwise maybe it’s the heat. I had my old boss’s light pan fried summer squash (dipped in egg & flour first) and it was out of this world! I have to try to re-create that speaking of.

  12. Are you in Kansas? Our garden is doing the exact same thing! Pretty much everything went from nice and green and blooming to dead and dried up overnight. We had at least 10 potato plants die overnight, and had to be dug up immediately. We have tomato blooms, but no tomatoes (although ours aren’t as big as yours). We do have cucumber and cantaloupe vines, but all of our lettuce completely died (but I also think that we waited too long on that – it was our first time growing that). The beans are finally starting to blossom, but radishes and carrots and onions completely dried up and died. It’s sad really. If we get water, it’s a pounding rain for an hour max, and then scorching sun.

    However, like you said, the farmers are worse off than we are. Hubby said that they declared it a drought and are giving them a subsidy for their crops (I’m not sure exact verbiage, but it was something like that). And then you look at Arkansas and North Dakota, and it’s just total flooding and destruction. Unreal!

    • I am! I just looked out the window… what is it, 110 degrees out there?! and the garden looks pretty sad. Still, I need to wait until tonight or early in the morning to water.

      • I know!! I’m in Wichita, and it is HOT! My (flower) garden at home is looking really pitiful, because I always forget to water until about 10pm, and then I get up too late to water in the morning. Is it bad that I’ve started telling my 5 year old to remind me to water the flowers???

  13. I just posted a link to 10 ways to use up surplus squash because we have TONS of it!!

    We have the same tomato problem here in TN too. Beautiful plants but only a few green ones on them.

  14. hippie4ever says:

    Well, if you’re really dry, you need to water like mad. Tomatoes need a lot of water to develop (so said my sage neighbor farming 123 acre for over 50 years 🙂 ). And recently an organic farmer told me to trim the branches that weren’t producing so that the energy of the plant went into developing fruit instead of more branches.

  15. Homegrown squash = homemade babyfood! If baby doesn’t like squash (mine didn’t), then you can mix the steamed squash puree in with sweet potatoes, pear sauce, peas, etc. I’ve also taken the puree and added it to homemade spaghetti sauce for hidden nutrients.

    Sorry about the maters! The same thing happened to ours the past two years, but we’ve got plenty this year!

  16. It might just be too early. We won’t have tomatoes for a few weeks here.

  17. Carolyn says:

    I have a very moist spice cake that uses summer squash. Very simple to stir together, no mixer involved! In fact, it’s the only reason I buy summer squash.

  18. Carolyn says:

    @Stacy – no it’s not a quick bread. If you didn’t know it had squash in it, you would just think it’s a very moist spice snack cake. I use a wisk or wooden spoon to mix everything. Very easy for children to help with, too.

    1-1/2 c. flour
    1 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1-1/2 t. cinnamon
    1/2 t. nutmeg
    1/4 t. ground cloves
    1/4 t. ground ginger
    1/2 t. salt
    2 eggs
    1 c. dark brown sugar
    2/3 c. oil
    2 t. vanilla
    1-1/2 c. grated summer squash

    Sift together dry ingredients. Beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla together in a large bowl. Wisk in the dry ingredients, then stir in the grated squash. Pour into a greased 8×8-inch pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. Enjoy!

  19. I’m pretty sure it’s the heat! Tomato plants don’t flower/set fruit when nighttime temps are consistantly above 72 degrees. I’ve got the exact same problem in my central-Oklahoma garden, and all of the organic farmers around here have very, very little to offer in the way of tomatoes so far this year. We are praying for rain and relief from this brutal heat!!

    • Ahhh, so do we keep watering them and just wait for it to cool down a bit?

      • That’s my plan! I’m HOPING they will still flower, but just in case I will be planting a few short season tomato plants (like Early Girl) this week & shading them with burlap until the heat relents & they get established. They should be able to set fruit before our first frost (usually mid to late october) I’m not giving up on my plans for salsa yet!!! 🙂


  1. […] to Frugal Gardening 101) June 24th, 2011 | Category: Gardening and […]

Leave a Reply to Carolyn Cancel reply