Vegibee Hand Pollinator
Last year in our garden, we had our standard tomato crop. Some tomatoes, ripening late in the season. I wasn’t sure if this was a Colorado thing or if I’d done something wrong. Turns out it’s a little of both. Two season’s ago my Niece, in Hershey Nebraska, with just a few tomato plants, had a bumper crop. Really bumper, she begged people to come take some tomatoes. I can honestly say that that never happened to me.
This year I decided that if I were going to do this Urban farming thing, it would be in my best interest to learn more about growing tomatoes here in Colorado. I concluded from my research, most of which was conducted on YouTube, that I really needed to be more diligent in my pruning of the plants and really get a handle on suckers and extra unneeded foliage. I’ll cover those subjects in a future blog, but suffice it to say at this point that I became brutal in pruning and plant management. I must say that my tomato plants never looked as good as they did with these newly acquired skills. However, I was concerned about the lack of pollinating insects. My Niece's home is very near some commercial beekeepers, and bees were not a problem in her garden.
A large and healthy bee population is critical for a bumper tomato crop and our bee population had diminished over the last 5 years to frighteningly low levels. I won’t comment on this other than to say “Thanks a lot, Monsanto”. Last year I could count the number of bees I’d see each day on one hand. Ten years ago I’d have that many bees on or around each plant almost any time of the day. I did some research on how bees pollinated tomato plants and tried to come up with a manual solution.
I tried everything from “flicking the blossoms” to shaking the plants or cages and at one point attached a wooden ruler to a metal engraving pen (the kind you use to mark your name on metal tools). If the timing was just right, I’d sometimes see a little cloud of pollen be ejected into the air. I often thought that if I could find some tool that vibrated at the same rate as a bee, then I might create results similar to my niece.
After searching the internet, I found some pollinators that were priced way out of my league (close to $300 including shipping). I decided that “flicking and shaking” were going to be my only options Until I ran into a website for the Vegibee. http://vegibee.com/index.php/
The VegiBee Garden Pollinators are designed to improve the crop yield for commercial and hydroponic growers as well as home gardeners. The VegiBee Co. offers two pollinators including a 5-speed rechargeable unit that retails for $49.99 and an express battery powered unit for $29.99.
VegiBee Garden Pollinators are ideal for use on all tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, and eggplant. These self-pollinating plants possess the “perfect flower”, containing both the male and female reproductive parts in the same flower. VegiBee helps to overcome low crop yields in these plants, caused by shrinking bee populations and home gardens sheltered from the wind.
I ordered one and have been unbelievably satisfied with my purchase. From the first time I used it, somewhat late in the season, I could see the pollen being released into the spoon. Although manually pollinating is tedious work, the results have been fantastic. My plan is to utilize the VegiBee next year throughout the growing season as well as in the greenhouse this winter.
I’m including a YouTube commercial for the Vegibee in this blog, as well as a link to the website. I have no affiliate agreement with this company and will not be receiving any “kickback” if you decide to purchase one for yourself. I just thought you’d like to know.
The bottom line is; whether it was my newly practiced pruning techniques, a better year, better compost and soil or the Vegibee, we have experienced the best crop of tomatoes ever. I plan on doing everything I did this year from here on out.