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Friday, August 7, 2009

Rotten Bottoms

I know the title sounds gross but I thought it would get you attention. Now that you are here, read on.

We have had some issues with our tomatoes this summer as the bottoms of our first tomatoes are rotting away. As you can see in the picture it isn’t pretty. You may have the same thing happening to your tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and have wondered the same thing that I did. The question being “what’s the story morning glory.” This leads to a second question about whom morning glory is but that’s a question for another article. Are you confused yet?

What’s the story?

The name of our story is tomato blossom end rot. Say that three times fast if you dare. It is caused by a calcium deficiency. Calcium is a necessary part of cell development and for some reason the plants are not getting enough. There are different factors that are believed to cause the calcium deficiency. It could be that your roots have been damaged or they aren’t established. It might be caused by fluctuations in the watering of the plants i.e. drought followed by heavy watering or vice versa. The PH level in your soil might be out of wack as well.

What can we do about it?

Once you have it there isn’t much you can do to help the tomatoes that are manifesting the symptoms. The good news is that it usually only effects the first group of tomatoes for each plant. As the roots become more established the plant gets more efficient in getting calcium out of the soil. I don’t see any rot on our new tomatoes.

How can I prevent it?

Try to make sure that you water evenly.

Add mulch and compost to your soil in the spring as this will help the soil retain a consistent moisture level.

Check the PH of your oil prior to planting. It should be around 6.5. You can buy kits to check this or take a soil sample to your local gardening shop.

Add composted manures, lime, or bone meal to your soil prior to planting. This is not an immediate fix as it takes some time for the calcium to leach into the soil.

Add eggshells to the soil at the bottom of the tomato plants. This will add calcium over time and also repels snails.


Becca's Dirt said...

Very good information. I have experienced this same thing and didn't know what to do. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela said...

I've had this happen this summer and once I stopped watering them everyday like my other plants, problem was solved. I have a sq. foot garden so I was watering my whole garden everyday since all my other plants needed it. Now I water my tomatoes a couple times a week and my tomatoes are great and they taste awesome too.

-Sydney- said...

Rotating the location of your tomato plants from year-to-year helps immensely to prevent blossom rot and other diseases common to the tomato/eggplant/pepper family.

mike said...

Thanks for the suggestions Pamela and Sydney. I hadn't thought of rotating the plants but it makes perfect sense. Any other suggestions from anyone else?