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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