Blossom end rot is due to insufficient calcium uptake in your plants. So, if you and I don’t get enough calcium, we’ll get weak bones, but if tomatoes don’t get enough calcium, they’ll get soggy bottoms!
Have you ever tried growing tomatoes, only to find that the fruits have developed yucky, rotten bottoms? It sounds like you’ve fallen victim to the ever-dreaded blossom end rot—a terribly annoying affliction that affects squash, cucumbers, melons, and peppers. But more often than not, it damages tomatoes.
To Prevent Blossom End Rot, You Have to Understand What It Is
At first glance, blossom end rot might look like pest damage, disease, or fungus. It’s actually none of those things! Blossom end rot is due to insufficient calcium uptake in your plants. So, if you and I don’t get enough calcium, we’ll get weak bones, but if tomatoes don’t get enough calcium, they’ll get soggy bottoms!
While sub-par calcium levels in the soil may often be to blame for blossom end rot, that isn’t the only culprit. You have to watch out for problems that can interfere with your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. The calcium might be there, but your plant could be struggling to access it!
If you spot some fruits on your plant that are showing signs of blossom end rot, remove them and toss them out; this doesn’t mean the end for your veggie plants, so long as they’re still flowering! You can use plenty of products to improve calcium uptake and save the rest of your crops from meeting an untimely end.
Different Methods to Prevent Blossom End Rot
Here are some things to practice when growing vegetables to stop blossom end rot before it starts.
Use Calcium-Fortified Fertilizer
The standard practice to prevent blossom end rot is ensuring you have healthy soil packed with lots of organic matter. Fertilizing regularly with a calcium-fortified fertilizer formulated for vegetables should help quite a bit. Adding a supplementary calcium product on its own won’t suffice—the potassium in fertilizer is necessary for fueling your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. We like the Tomato Feed From Jack’s Fertilizer.
Other products like bone meal, gypsum, and crushed eggshells are great organic sources of calcium and can be used in conjunction with fertilizer.
Inconsistent watering, drought, and heat stress can compromise your plant’s ability to soak up calcium. Maintain a regular routine for watering, and try to water early in the morning before the sun heats up the soil. This way, your plants’ roots will be better insulated and protected from extreme heat.
Test Your Soil
Fresh soil is usually pretty nutrient-dense, but if you’ve worked with the same old soil for a few gardening seasons, it’s probably short on the essential nutrients your plants need to grow. The pH level of your soil can also shift over time, so if it’s too acidic or too alkaline, it can mess with your plants’ basic functions. A soil test will give you a precise reading of pH and nutrient levels, so you can more accurately choose the appropriate product to prevent blossom end rot. If you’re unsure how to adjust pH levels in your soil, feel free to contact us, and we can offer some suggestions!
Avoid Damaging Roots
If you injure your plants’ roots, they’ll struggle to soak up that calcium! It doesn’t matter how fortified your soil is if your plant has mangled roots—that’s a recipe for blossom end rot! Try not to dig around the roots too roughly, and be gentle when transplanting your starters.
Try a Calcium Foliar Spray
Your plant can absorb calcium through its leaves, too! Yield Booster by Fertilome or Rot Stop by Bonide are popular products—just spritz it all over the leaves according to the package instructions, and you will protect your future fruits from blossom end rot.
If you have any questions or require product suggestions to prevent and treat blossom end rot in Iowa, come visit us at Wallace’s Garden Center! We have various products available, and we’ll be happy to explain how to apply them safely and effectively.