Preventing and treating blossom end rot in tomatoes and other home grown vegetables. Learn what causes tomato end rot. Easy treatment for zucchini end rot. Pictures to help with diagnosis.
Tomato BER image by William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org
Blossom or bottom end rot is a nutritional disorder which sometimes affects home grown produce. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and cucumbers are the most likely victims.
If your vegetables have this disorder, sunken brown or black spots (usually circular) will form on the blossom end of the fruit. The lesions are usually wet when they first form but may dry as the fruit matures.
Affected fruit is worthless and should be discarded.
Blossom end rot can be caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil or by another imbalance which prevents the plants from taking up the calcium.
Preventing Tomato Blossom End Rot
Tomato end rot picture by David B. Langston, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
The following tips will protect all garden vegetables from end rot.
Mix lime into the soil prior to planting.
Avoid damaging the roots of vegetable plants while they are growing. Injured roots may have difficulty absorbing nutrients.
Use a tomato fertilizer to give the plants the correct balance of nutrients. Peppers, squash and other vegetables can all be fed with tomato food.
In order for calcium in the soil to be properly assimilated, the soil needs to be kept evenly moist.
Pepper blossom end rot photo by Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Bugwood.org
All you have to do to effect an end rot cure is add calcium to the soil.
Always sprinkle a little horticultural lime over the planting bed or into the container before setting the plants in. If that ship has sailed, you can sprinkle it around the growing plants and water it in.
If you do not have a bag of lime, here are some other things you can use:
Crushed egg shells. These take time to break down and are best added to your homemade compost.
Wood ash from your fireplace. Use just as you would powdered lime.
Calcium supplements or dolomite that is intended for human consumption. Crush the pills and sprinkle into the soil. The plant will get some calcium every time you water it.
Milk. When you finish a carton of milk, fill it with water. Use the milky water to feed the plants.
Epsom salts, either sprinkled on the soil or dissolved in water and sprayed on the foliage. This is not a calcium source but something which helps plants to absorb calcium. A teaspoon added to a quart of water or sprinkled around each plant is enough.
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