How did my $4.99 Walmart SpongeBob electric toothbrush become my new favorite garden tool?
It happened last year when we moved and I started a vegetable garden in the backyard. The plot had good soil, plenty of sun, and my vegetable starts were healthy and strong.
The plants grew and flowered. But they didn’t form any fruits—no tomatoes, no eggplants, no peppers! Only flowers, lots of flowers! I did some research and decided that maybe I had a pollinator problem. True, I hadn’t seen any bees in my garden. What to do?
I watched a YouTube video about using an electric toothbrush to handpollinate tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Reluctantly, I bought a SpongeBob toothbrush at Walmart, thinking this was going to be a tedious task.
Well, it is not—it’s fun! All you have to do is turn on the tooth-brush—no toothpaste needed—touch the flower stem, and the vibrating brush gives the blossom a shake. Sometimes you can even see the pollen puff! Since tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are self-pollinating, that’s all they need to be fertilized.
So every morning, I strolled through my vegetable garden and, like a fairy godmother, touched my SpongeBob wand on all the flower stems as I passed by. What happened next was amazing. Every flower on every plant bore fruit. The tomato plants got so heavy my husband had to drive 12-foot rebar poles in the ground to support the cages. Now this is the kind of problem I want to have!
I’m putting in a small flower garden this fall to encourage bees and other pollinators next year. But I also plan to use SpongeBob again myself. It’s just too much fun!
—By Linda Lareau of Canton, CT.
This article was published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #106.