How to Banish Blossom Rot From Your Tomato Garden

How to Banish Blossom Rot From Your Tomato GardenBlossom 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:

  1. How does blossom rot start?
  2. 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.

Prevention

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.

soil test kitBefore planting your tomatoes, be sure to have your soil tested or do it yourself with an inexpensive soil testing kit.

Ideally, your soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH somewhere running between 6.2 to 6.8. The plants also need a constant supply of major and minor plant nutrients as well (Bonnie Plants).

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.

If you live in an area where alkaline soil is a fact of life, you may want to build raised beds to create a more favorable environment that tomato plants will thrive and produce tasty fruits.

water base of tomato plant

Image Credit: HGTV – Garden

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.

seaweed extractFinally, 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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Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut Cake

Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut CakeUsing an iron skillet is a great choice for baking as it has the ability to keep things hot on the entire surface of the skillet. Whatever you decide to bake in the skillet, it will always bake evenly while developing a wonderful crust around the edges and bottom.

An iron skillet is an amazing piece of cook-ware your kitchen cannot do without. There are five things you can bake in an iron skillet, such as cakes and pies, and everyone knows you can use it to bake up some cornbread.

Another great use for the iron skillet is roasted chicken. An article in the New York Times by food writer Melissa Clark entitled, “A New Breed of Roast Chicken, Cast-Iron Seared,” states by heating an iron skillet in a 500 degree oven, then placing the bird in the pan so its thighs make contact with the surface, the dark meat will finish cooking at the same time as the white. This is because the thighs, which are instantly seared by the cast iron, get a jump-start on the breast, which is not seared and cooks more slowly, staying moist (view the video).

Baking a cake in a iron skillet is a fun way to play around with your everyday cake recipes, including those that are used to make cupcakes.

Our featured recipe is just that, a cupcake recipe turned into a Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut Cake. We originally found the recipe at Say Grace Blog, and the writer Felesha who describes herself as a Tex-Mex foodie lover says, “Pecan pie muffins go up a notch when combined with yummy semi-sweet chocolate chips and tasty sweetened coconut.”

Here at Splendid Recipes and More we took it up a notch by turning her German Chocolate Pecan Pie Muffins into a Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut Cake, and here is what you will need.

1 cup coconut sugar, can also use brown sugar

½ cup gluten free flour

2 cups pecan pieces

¾ cup  semi-sweet dark chocolate chips

½ cup sweeten and shredded coconut

⅔ cup clarified butter, room temperature

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

batter for Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut CakeIn a medium bowl, mix together coconut sugar and gluten free flour.

Next add pecans, dark chocolate chips and coconut, and mix in.

Next add the clarified butter cream butter with the vanilla extract, and mix in.

parchment paper on the bottom of iron skilletPlace a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a iron skillet (makes for easy removal of the cake). Butter the sides with some coconut oil.

Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut Cake batter in an iron skilletNext spoon in the batter, and place into the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

fresh baked Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut CakeLet stand and cool for about 10 minutes.

Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut CakePlate and enjoy!!

After using your iron skillet here is a great way to clean it: How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware.

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Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread

Gluten Free  Blueberry Lemon BreadGluten intolerance is experienced by not few, but many individuals. In the USA  gluten sensitive affects 6% of the population, or about 18 million people.  Around 3 million Americans, or about 1% of the US population have Celiac disease, and must also avoid gluten.

Magazine DigestionA recently published study (May 2015) in the journal “Digestion” found that 86% of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it (Resource).

Stefano Guandalini, MD, director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, says that gluten sensitivity, a condition that doctors once dismissed but now is recognized as legitimate complaint from patients (WebMD).

The most common symptom to gluten intolerance is bloating right after eating any flour product, like bread, that contains gluten.

This is why the author of Splendid Recipes and More eats gluten free as much as possible. The only gluten free products we buy prepackaged, are pastas make with a legume flour, quinoa or brown rice flour.

Sourdough Bread on Cutting BoardAlso sourdough bread has only about 3% max gluten after the fermentation process. We prefer this bread over any other, as we do not bloat after eating it.

You might think, what is wrong with bloating some for a bit, as it will go away? This maybe true, but bloating is a symptom of digestive issues as well as inflaming the digestive tract.

Also if you find yourself wanting to fall asleep after eating gluten containing foods, that is a symptom that your digestive tract is having difficulty digesting the food.

We have a Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding, that will put me to sleep while it is digesting. But if I make the dessert with sourdough bread or a gluten free loaf of bread, that doesn’t happen.

All I know is after cutting gluten from my diet, I feel much better. No bloating, and some weight loss, as much as 22 pounds. Though going gluten free was not done so as to lose weight.

Now for our featured recipe – Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread – and here is what you will need.

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. Himalayan salt

4 eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil or clarified butter, melted

bowl of fresh blueberries1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

3 tbsp. lemon juice

zest from 2 lemons

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a glass loaf pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom.

Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well incorporated.

Spread one third of the batter onto bottom of prepared pan.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the blueberries on top.  Spread another third of the batter and another third of the blueberries.  Repeat one more time with the remaining batter and berries.

If you wish not to do this step, just mix the berries into the batter.

Next place baking dish into the oven and bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cover with foil if top begins to brown too much.  This is one draw back of gluten free baking, is the top of the cakes seem to brown fast.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Gluten free baking is really an art. How so? Will if you are use to baking with gluten containing flours, from a grain, and not flour from a nut, it can be caught difficult, if not to say stressful. We say stressful, because of all the effort and time you spent on preparing and baking, to only have a flop as they say, is stressful.

Slice of Gluten Free  Blueberry Lemon Bread topped with Organic ButterIf your first gluten free dessert doesn’t turn out perfect, just try again, like we did. Link here to view our very first gluten free dessert here at Splendid Recipes and More.

It was delicious, though the texture was not right. We kept trying and have come out with some good results.

Desserts made with almond flour and even coconut flour, taste really good with a good Italian or French roasted coffee, or even an Espresso.

Serve the dessert bread warm with a dab of organic butter or coconut butter.

Please leave us your thoughts on going gluten free.

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Keeping Your Family Safe with a Reliable Meat Thermometer

Meat Thermometer

Meat thermometers can do two things for you.  They can prevent you from overcooking and drying out your foods as well as prevent you from spending fortunes in medical expenses.

Government health regulations are very particular when it comes to foods being prepared at certain temperatures.  Those certain temperatures are set to ensure that no one eating the foods prepared is going to become ill from being undercooked.  It is especially important in facilities that prepare meals for numerous people.

But for you and your family it is just as important that because it is hitting home.  Using a meat thermometer is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that everyone is safe to eat the foods prepared in your home.

There are two types of thermometers that can be used.  One that you leave in the meat while cooking and the other you stick it in the meat and take an instant read temperature.

Some thermometers are digital, some have voice responses that speak to you and then there are those that will tell you the temperature with a hand remote from 300 feet away.  The gadgets of convenience are not nearly as important as the timely accuracy that you are really wanting.

Let’s take a look at several thermometers and discover which are best at giving you the quickest accurate readings.  As well you’ll want to know which thermometers can take a wide range reading.  Meaning, how well it does in going from 0 to 450 degrees.

We won’t compare prices because most meat thermometers are $30 or less.  If you find higher priced thermometers it will because it has added bells and whistles like, opening the oven door for you.  But remember, that’s not what’s important when it comes to being safe.

Thermometer Performance Reviews

Brand

Accuracy

Reading Time

Range

Overall Score Consumer Reports /100

Overall Score Amazon /5

Polder 360 Dual Probe

Excellent

Very Good

Excellent

92

3.1

Taylor Weekend Warrior 806

Very Good

Excellent

Excellent

84

3.6

AcuRite

00648

Good

Excellent

Excellent

72

2.6

Taylor Classic 1470

Very Good

Poor

Excellent

67

3.3

Maverick ET 64

Excellent

Very Good

Good

66

4.1

Polder THM-372

Excellent

Very Good

Good

65

3.4

Oxo 1051105

Excellent

Good

Good

64

1.5

Kitchen Aid SS

Very Good

Fair

Good

49

4.5

Taylor Connoisseur 501

Very Good

Poor

Good

25

4.2

There is wide range in the score variances and quite a difference in ratings between Consumers Reports and Amazon ratings. For your information the numbers from Consumers Reports comes from several rounds of testing, whereas the scoring system from Amazon is directly related to consumer feedback.

Some brands are instant check while others are leave in while cooking, but which type you choose is a matter of your preference. And that fact that some are digital and some aren’t, played no role in the ratings. That also is a matter of preference. Most importantly you now know which thermometers you are going to get the best readings from.

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