I reckon that biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato has to be in the top two gratifying gardening experiences out there (and it isn’t number two).
But tomato plants can be a little finicky, sometimes failing to offer the bountiful crop you and your pruning-weary fingers frankly deserve. And while there are plenty of fascinating ways to help the fruits along, like spraying your tomatoes with aspirin (yes, really), it turns out there’s another simple and free way to boost your plant’s offerings.
Tomato tapping is an increasingly popular trend among gardeners. It’s incredibly easy to do, has helped some green-fingered gurus to “supercharge” their tomato yield, and costs nothing – what’s not to love?
Here’s how you can start tapping your own plants, and why it works.
The process is exactly what you’d expect it to be
Tomato tapping involves, well, tapping your tomato plant (shocker).
The idea is to get pollen from the flowers onto the stem and other parts of the plant, mimicking and exaggerating the effects of the wind and natural disturbances from animals and birds. It’s especially useful if you’re growing tomatoes in a sheltered environment, such as a greenhouse.
It works because tomatoes have both female and male pollen, making them self-pollinating. This means that the plants already have everything they need to grow and thrive, even if the bees and breeze aren’t there to help their unusually heavy and sticky pollen move – all they need is a little tap.
Plants need to reproduce to produce fruit, so if your bounty is a little low (or even non-existent), it could be because pollinators aren’t flocking to your plants as they should be. Or, you could have, I don’t know, just faced a very long, dry, still heatwave.
As Daniel Carruthers from Cultivar Greenhouses told Ideal Home, the process of tomato tapping is really simple. “Simply take hold of the stem and gently shake it so that pollen is released or tap the end of the flowers directly,” he says.
And if you don’t fancy getting your hands dirty, Carruthers says you can use a paintbrush or a cotton bud instead – just twirl either inside the flower and brush the collected pollen along the plant.
Carruthers isn’t the only one who recommends the novel technique to produce a bumper crop. Keen gardener Kia Jade posted a video on the topic to TikTok, explaining that it’s a great way to “supercharge” the fruit and adding that “it does increase yield.”
Here’s her video (it also handily shows you how to perform the hack):