A: All members of the squash family (pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers, etc.) produce male and female flowers along the vine and require pollinator visits. Tomatoes and beans, however, have male and female parts inside each flower. Pollen moves between the male and female parts with a just bit of vibration or wind action. Visiting insects help take pollen from flower to flower, but they are not absolutely necessary for pollination/fruiting to occur on these “perfect flower” plants. Carpenter bees, native bees and bumblebees, not honeybees, are the heavy hitters for tomato pollination. Normal tomato flowers hang down from a stem. The pollinating bee will grab the center of the flower and “buzz” it, shaking lots of pollen loose. The bee takes the pollen back to its nest, the tomato gets pollinated and you have the main ingredient for a summer sandwich!
Q: I found a volunteer tomato plant next to my townhouse which has become huge and filled with cherry tomatoes. Should I prune it? Camille Mackool, email