Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dealing with Blossom End Rot

Well, I spoke too soon last week; my wonderful now-five-foot container tomato has spent the week fighting blossom end rot.

I remember one of the first times I ever mentioned blossom end rot to Mr. FC&G.  I was reading Facebook and noticed one of my fellow gardeners complaining about the dreaded tomato condition.

"Oh, no, [Name] has blossom end rot!" I declared to Mr. FC&G.

He replied, "Just so we're clear, that's a tomato thing, not a personal thing, right?"

Yes, folks, blossom end rot is a tomato thing, although gardeners do tend to take it like a personal failing of some sort.  You'll know you have it when you see a dark spot appear on the bottom of your tomato, like you see in this photo.

The good news is, blossom end rot is a physiological problem, not a viral or bacterial one. It happens when tomatoes don't have enough calcium while they're growing, or sometimes when the water level varies too much or too quickly. Given that we just had a relatively dry week followed by a week of torrential downpours during which this plant grew another foot in height, I think it's no surprise that there are some structural problems going on.

Generally, I prevent blossom end rot with egg tea, made by soaking egg shells overnight in water, then dumping that water on the plant along with the crushed shells.  This poor guy will be getting extra egg tea attention this week (if it ever stops raining).

Also, since the damaged fruit can't communicate the disease, I'll still be putting any fruit I remove into the compost pile. I have read that you can allow the fruit to continue to mature and eat it after cutting out the bad spot once it's ripe, but that's often not a very appetizing idea.  I have been known to do it with very small spots of damage, however.  Needless to say, I never use a damaged fruit in canning, because starting with perfect fruit is the first step in canning safety.

Are you fighting blossom end rot this year?  (In your tomatoes, silly!)
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