Blossom rot, or blossom end rot, is a common problem encountered by professional and back yard tomato gardeners. You may be asking what is blossom rot? It is a disease that that can be identified by a dark, rotten spot at the blossom end of developing tomatoes.
But no need to despair, as there are techniques you can use to counter act blossom rot before it even starts. It is pertinent that you follow through with the methods, because once the end rot appears on an individual fruit, there is no way to cure the affected tomato.
You can cut away the rotted portion of the tomato after you harvest it and safely eat the portion that was not affected, but it is best to eliminate the problem before it reaches that point.
How To Prevent Tomato Blossom Rot
Let’s examine these questions:
- How does blossom rot start?
- How can I prevent it from showing up in the first place?
Blossom end rot is a physiological affliction of the tomato plant. Initial symptoms can and consist of small, light brown flecks and lesions occur initially on green fruit that are clustered on the blossom end of the developing fruit.
As the disorder worsens, a circular to oblong, dark brown, firm lesion develops on the blossom end.
If blossom rot is left unchecked, you can lose a large portion of your entire tomato crop to this condition.
What causes blossom end rot is the plants deficiency in calcium. Adequate amounts of calcium are needed in order for tomato plants to produce their fruit properly. Even if you have plenty of calcium in your soil, your plants may not be able to effectively absorb it for a number of reasons. When this occurs, your plants are at risk of contracting blossom rot.
Now to answer the question of how to prevent blossom rot in the first place? To prevent blossom end rot is making sure your plants have getting enough calcium and are able to absorb enough of the mineral.
Before planting your tomatoes, be sure to have your soil tested or do it yourself with an inexpensive soil testing kit.
To start, if your soil is too acidic, add some limestone to increase the pH. Use caution when adding this soil amendment, because adding too much will cause the soil too be, to alkaline.
If this occurs, or if your soil is naturally alkaline, you can amend it with rich organic matter, elemental sulfur or an acidifying fertilizer, such as ammonium sulfate. It can be very challenging to lower soil pH, however, because limestone in the ground is continually dissolving.
Once your soil is at the optimum pH level, you’ll want to ensure your plants are receiving adequate moisture.
Optimal tomato growth requires regular and deep watering, so that water gets all the way down to the entire root system.
Make sure your plants are receiving 1 to 2 inches of water weekly, and more if a warm spell comes on.
To reduce the chance of foliar diseases, water the base of tomato plants and avoid getting water on the leaves, especially if you’re watering in the evening.
Blossom end rot will usually occur at the start of the season as the first fruits appear. If you notice your tomatoes are showing possible signs of blossom rot, make sure your plants are watered deeply every 4 to 5 days. If it is extremely hot in your area, water them even more frequently.
To determine when it is time to water your plants, dig down 3 or 4 inches into the soil. If the soil is moist, wait 24 hours and check again. When the soil at that level is dry, it is time to water again.
Finally, many tomato gardeners also swear by liquid kelp (seaweed) extract as a way to combat blossom rot. Sea Kelp contains a natural substance you can use to condition soil, and it can contain more than 70 vitamins, minerals and enzymes essential to the health your tomato plants.
The extract and fertilizer are readily available in local garden centers, large home improvement stores or via online retailers. You may want to test it out on part of your garden to see how it works for you.
Although blossom rot can be a garden dilemma, it is time will spent in preparation and planning your tomato garden, which will go a long ways towards eradicating blossom end rot from your garden.
Header Article Image Credit: Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program
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