If you grow tomatoes you’ll want to know how to Cure and Prevent Blossom End Rot.
Such a nasty term and a disheartening plight for us diligent, nurturing, ever hopeful gardeners.
Because I don’t want any of you tomato ‘farmers’ to look at your ripening crop and see the tell tale black spot on the bottom of the fruit, I am sharing what I have learned & how I cured my tomatoes of BER.
To cure and prevent blossom end rot (BER) in your tomatoes you must understand what it is and why it is happening.
Once you gain that knowledge curing & preventing it is not that challenging.
What is Blossom End Rot?
You perfect the soil, water just the right amount, protect from vermin and insects and then a deficiency gets them…
And it might not even be an actual deficiency… in a word “UGH!!”
Blossom End Rot sets in when there is a calcium imbalance. It may not be a deficiency of calcium, just that the plant isn’t taking in enough calcium for proper growth, even if the soil has plenty calcium in it.
Let’s dig in to understand this better…
A tomato’s cells need calcium to grow. Calcium acts like glue in cells, it binds them together.
Tomatoes absorb calcium through water. But calcium is slow moving.
So if a tomato grows quickly the calcium doesn’t have enough time to travel through the whole piece of fruit.
Or if other conditions slow water absorption, hence calcium absorption, this will result in a deficiency of calcium in the tomato plant no matter the levels in the soil.
Conditions that can slow water and/or calcium absorption can include:
- inconsistent watering
- root damage
- cold temperatures/cold soil
- excessive heat
- too much nitrogen in soil (lowers calcium uptake)
- large amount of salts in the soil (lowers the availability of calcium)
- markedly acidic or alkaline soil (pH imbalance prevents calcium absorption)
Without the proper amount of calcium a tomato’s tissues break down and leave the telltale damage ~ the black sunken spot ~on its bottom.
Learn how to Cure and Prevent Blossom End Rot
How to Cure Blossom End Rot
Prevention is really the cure here, but if you see the early signs of BER you can take quick action and save your crop of tomatoes from this fate.
Apply calcium immediately by adding it to the soil and watering it in so it is taken up through the roots. You will want to use a quick release garden lime to administer the calcium. Click HERE to see the organic garden lime I use.
Don’t bother with the folic (leaf) calcium sprays that promise to stop blossom end rot.
To stop, or prevent. blossom end rot the calcium has to come up from the soil through the roots, not through the leaves. In fact, spraying this type of chemical on the leaves may end up killing your plant if done in high heat.
How to Prevent Blossom End Rot
As I mentioned, it is better to prevent BER in your tomatoes than try to stop it in its tracks.
This is how you can prevent BER:
- Strive for a soil with a ph level of 6.5
- Mix in organic compost
- Toss a scoop of garden lime in each planting hole
- Mulch right after planting to retain moisture
- In the blossom stage fertilize with an organic fertilizer high in phosphorus
Fertilizers high in phosphorus will have a higher second number.
Too much nitrogen, the first # in the fertilizer trio of numbers, or too much fresh manure (salt) in the soil will prevent calcium uptake and will result in blossom end rot. This is a good choice for fertilizing your tomatoes – click HERE.
To understand how to read a fertilizer label ( the 3 #s demystified) read my post HERE.
My tomatoes fell victim to too much love this year. I filled up my raised beds with what I believe to be the perfect soil, but alas I went a bit heavy on the steer manure. Which resulted in early BER. I acted quickly and added garden lime and tossed the infected fruits. My second wave of tomatoes were free of BER.
A ravenous raccoon enjoyed many of my BER free tomatoes before we did, but that is a garden story for another day!
Read HERE for why I garden even through it can be, well … frustrating sometimes.
I hope this post helps with the frustration of BER in teaching you how to Cure and Prevent Blossom End Rot.
Despite, the frustrations, effort & expense, I keep coming back to the garden for all THESE reasons.
You too? Tell me why …
** Kelly **
Read HERE to understand what an HEIRLOOM TOMATO is …
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