The Dreaded Blossom End Rot Has Struck.

My tomatoes have been doing great.  I was nervous for a while there because many of the leaves and stems on several plants were yellowing but after a healthy dose of additional compost and then some liquid Dr. Earth fertilizer a week later, they seem to have perked up.  They are all planted in containers and therefore need a supply of nutrients to replenish those that leach out after watering.  Oddly enough, the tomatoes planted in the enormous half wine barrels seemed to suffer more than those planted in smaller 5-gallon pickle buckets!  Go figure.

I was just glad they all recovered and we’ve been enjoying plenty of Sun Gold tomatoes from an out-of-control-happy seedling I got from Elaine over at Bucolic Bushwick a few months back – thanks, Elaine!  Principe Borgheses have also been delicious, and we’ve had plenty of decent yellow pear tomatoes.

We’ve had our eyes on the Mortgage Lifters, which are starting to turn pink now, and on the San Marzano plum tomatoes, which look absolutely gorgeous…at least they DID until yesterday, when as I bent down to pick some weeds from another container I noticed a dark spot on the bottom of one of the plum tomatoes…and then another…and then another.

Blossom End Rot

Nooooooooooo!

I know a little about blossom end rot and that it has to do with an inconsistent supply of water which affects the plant’s ability to draw up calcium when it needs it.

I can’t really understand why this plant has been affected but not the others (I HOPE the other larger tomatoes will be okay!)  They are all on the same watering schedule which is basically every other day (unless it’s REALLY hot like last week, in which case I watered every day.)

I soak the mulched soil (not the plants) all around just until I see the first drops of water coming out the bottom of the barrels, which are raised up on casters for mobility as well as for drainage.  The bottom quarter of each barrel is also filled with styrofoam packing peanuts for additional drainage.

I’ve read of a few cases where people’s plants recovered and went on to produce healthy, BER-free tomatoes.  Boy oh boy do I hope that’s the case here.  I was hoping to can some of these guys or have Mr. B make some of his amazing tomato sauce for canning.

The afflicted tomatoes were removed in hopes of the plant being able to recover and put its energy into healthy fruit.  All fingers and toes are crossed that the Mortgage Lifters will get by unscathed.

Anyone out there have any experience with this?

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13 thoughts on “The Dreaded Blossom End Rot Has Struck.

  1. http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=867

    Here’s a link about using eggshells against blossom end rot. The last entry on the page has the most valuable information.

    Assuming you don’t have any eggshells in the planting hole, you might try this: pulverize, boil and cool the eggshells then pour the water and shells onto the plants to see if it reverses the deficiency. I have never done this myself but have read about it as a folk remedy. I am guessing the water has to get to the lower root area so you may have to add more water to the calcium concoction to flood the pots. Rain water would be really good to use here. You can also try to catch and reuse what drains out the bottoms of the pots.

    I put crushed eggshells in tomato planting holes every spring. I save the shells all winter to have enough. This practice has not totally eradicated blossom end rot for me, but greatly decreased it. “Even” watering (as opposed to uneven) is also a factor. “Even” is not necessarily every day watering. But with your pots it’s good to be careful. Fluctuations like drenching downpours or 2 days of rain followed by long droughty conditions will make blossom end rot worse.

    I rarely get a plant that displays its entire crop with the condition. It’s an on and off situation.

    Good Luck!

    • Thanks, Bev – I will check it out! Anything’s worth a try, and we get a dozen eggs weekly from our CSA so I’m not lacking in eggshells right now. I’m at least glad to hear that there is a chance that not all of the fruit will be affected.

      In June I was feeling like WHY did I get so many tomato plants! Right now, though, I’m happy I have some cushion in case I lose some fruits.

      Thanks for the advice and the link!

  2. It seems like I get some BER every year. This year, it’s on just one variety. But, it always seems to clear up and the tomatoes look great later in the year. Might as well pull the bad ones so the plant doesn’t waste energy on those fruits and can start making new tomatoes.

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  4. Don’t panic Aimee, I’m sure you will have some unaffected plants. I find some of this problem among the tomatoes every year it seems– none this year yet but most of the fruit is still green! I have tried the eggshell process. I saved them all winter and carefully planted the eggshells in with each tomato plant in the spring but STILL there was end rot. Perhaps it would have been worse without the shells? But I gave that up. I think consistent watering helps the most. Good Luck!

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  6. How annoying! All of my Roma tomato plants last year had BER, and this year, I didn’t plant any intentionally. However, we have quite a few volunteers in the garden, and some are indeed Romas. It turns out that the plum type of tomatoes are most susceptible to BER. Because of the elongated shape of the tomato. Definitely do the crushed eggshell method that Bev suggests. It works wonders!

  7. I, too, save all my organic eggshells all winter long so I have a plentiful supply to throw into the planting hole for each tomato. I don’t think I’ve ever had blossom end rot, so it must be working. I grind them up pretty fine with a mortar and pestle and throw a handful into the hole.

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  9. I have heard that epsom salt is suppose to have calcium and magneisum. I am going to try it this year – just a little when planting my tomato plants. Look on the back of the package, I do believe I saw a recipe for plants there!

  10. Thanks, Kim! I’ve heard that too since writing this post. I’m also rinsing egg shells as we use them, crushing them and freezing them and will plant them in the holes where I plant the tomatoes this year – I’ve heard it helps, and I figure it can’t hurt! They’d go into the compost anyway!

    I have some epsom salts on hand and will have to check the box to see if it suggests amounts / solutions to use for tomatoes! Thanks!

  11. Try using Epsom Salts every couple of weeks. I use it and don’t have blossom end rot. I know that’s not proof positive because I live on the coast where it doesn’t get much over 70 F. (23 C).

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