Are you desperately looking for ways to fight blossom end rot in tomatoes?
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Imagine. You’re standing next to your prized tomato bushes and looking down at the beautiful red fruit.
You’re thinking about how tasty your nutritious tomatoes will taste. Then, you pick a tomato, turn it upside down and see brown. Yuck. That disgusting sight probably just ruined your vision of delicious BLT’s and sliced tomatoes with your healthy helping of cottage cheese.
We now know what the condition is called and how to treat or attempt to prevent it. It is called Blossom End Rot and is it is pretty common in tomatoes.
In this post, I’m going to cover:
- Signs of tomato plant stress which causes blossom end rot.
- How to prevent tomato plant stress.
- And ultimately fight blossom end rot in tomatoes.
So, let’s begin with the root of the problem. There have been some discrepancies in past years about what actually causes blossom end rot. So, let’s talk about what it is and what causes it.
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What Exactly is Blossom End Rot?
Blossom end rot is a stress-based tomato plant condition condition that affects the bottom of the tomato fruit. The fungus eats away at the fruit from the bottom up until there is nothing left for you. Tragic.
Symptoms are easy to spot with the presence of a disgusting rotted spot on the blossom side of the tomato fruit. It starts as a water bubble or bruise and spreads through the fruit.
Past publications and reports have stated blossom end rot to be caused by a calcium deficiency along with non-ideal weather conditions. However, recent studies show that is not the case. Blossom end rot is indeed caused by stress.
So, now we know the root of the problem. It is stress. The key to being able to fight blossom end rot in tomatoes is to prevent stress from happening.
Also, understand that blossom end rot does not spread from plant to plant or from fruit to fruit. But, unfortunately, the fungal disease is very difficult to treat with fungicides. The best form of torture for blossom end rot is to prevent.
How to Prevent Tomato Plant Stress
The key to controlling blossom end rot is to prevent it from happening. Grow better tomatoes by simply knowing how to care for tomato plants from the beginning.
It starts from the beginning. Tomato plants given the best care by you along with the perfect environmental conditions will be healthy, happy productive plants.
And we all know that perfect conditions are not always possible. No one can predict weather conditions. But there are some things you can do to help control the outcome and prevent stress in your tomato plants:
- Plant young transplants into warm soil.
- Also, plant into well-draining soil.
- Keep tomato plants off the ground.
- Use a Phosphorus-based fertilizer.
- Water at ground level and consistently.
Let’s look at each key practice a little more closely.
1. Was the soil too cold at Planting?
Soil temperature is important to note before putting seeds or plants into the ground. The soil temperature must be ideal that is best for germination for each and every variety of seed.
Here’s a Soil Temperature Guide you can print so you can always know what the soil temperature needs to be for certain vegetables.
Tomato plants appreciate warmer soils and loath soils cooler than 50 degrees. Just because the air temperature might be higher than 50 degrees does not mean your soil temperature is. Be sure to check it before you plant.
To figure out the soil temperature, you need a soil thermometer to check the temperature in the morning hours. If you don’t have one, the AcuRite soil thermometer is a good one I recommend.
2. Did the soil not drain well during rain falls?
This is the main question I ask and it’s generally the conclusion as well. Tomatoes that are planted into clay-type soils may will be water-logged longer.
So, it’s important to know what type of soil you have and how well or not well it drains. It doesn’t even matter what container they are planted in? How well the soil holds or releases the water is important.
Because tomatoes don’t like to sit in high moisture for days. It stresses them out and you will see signs of stress do to your soil failing to drain well.
It’s important for the roots to be able to grow and to take up precious nutrients such as the calcium it could be lacking. Good aerated soils will help the roots to stay healthy and to uptake those nutrients readily.
3. Are Your Tomato Plants Standing Tall?
So, the best thing the grower like you can do is to keep the tomatoes and fruit tied up off of the ground. When leaves or tomatoes are touching the ground, they tend to turn yellow and plants seem to be stressed.
I start training them as young as possible. After planting in warm temperature and well-draining soils, I use baling twine to tie up my young tomato plants.
Baling twine is gentle to use and won’t break the stems. Plus, it’s free because we have a ton just laying around! The plants will continue to grow normally. As the tomato plants grow, continue to add more twine.
As your plants become bigger and heavy with tomatoes, I strongly recommend transitioning to a stronger support system. We line our rows with cattle or hog panels (whatever we have laying around) to support trying tomato plants.
A stronger system will help keep your plants up off the ground. Cages are a popular item. Here’s a brand of tomato cages that work well for the home garden tomato.
4. What Kind Of Fertilizer Did You Use?
Use a fertilizer that is low in Nitrogen and high in Phosphorus. I recommend Miracle Grow for Tomatoes. You can buy it right here.
Miracle Grow for Tomatoes is an awesome product because it does provide the calcium that tomatoes need to grow and put on delicious fruit. I’m always very happy with the overall quality and size of my tomatoes after using Miracle Grow.
Water is another nutrient that tomato plants need…but not too much!
5. How Much and How Often do you Water Your Plants?
Be sure the plants have plenty of water…but not too much. I like to soak plants every couple of days as needed. Be sure to check the moisture of the soil internally. You can use your finger or a soil probe.
During drought conditions, install an irrigation system for your tomato plants to soak them. Please avoid spraying them with a nozzle. I strongly recommend this soaker hose system to water ground level.
Mulching or black plastic will help to keep the moisture into the ground during a dry period. It will also help with weed control around your tomato plants, which can also cause stress.
Black plastic is a great initial barrier for weeds. I recommend this brand of black plastic.
Mulch is wonderful to place on top to keep bottom leaves or tomatoes from burning on the black plastic. You can use straw or old hay for mulch.
So, I’ve hopefully given you some new and great tips to try and prevent blossom end rot. You may have heard your grandparents or parents speak of using calcium-based epsom salts or sprays to prevent as well.
Let’s cover that now.
Old Wives Tales for How to Fix Blossom End Rot
It’s fun to hear old wives tales and even try them out. So, I’m sharing these with you so that maybe you might be inclined to try. Even though you now know the steps to prevent blossom end rot.
My own grandmother advises to sprinkle some Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) around the edges of the plants to prevent fungal diseases.
Copper Sulfate sources are always a go-to if you’re looking to fight a fungus. Also, since most people believe blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency, calcium spray for tomatoes are popular.
Calcium for tomatoes in general is very popular because it is believed to be a quick fix for blossom end rot.
Some people even recommend tums for blossom end rot as a calcium option! Who knew!
While I have no idea if any of these old wives tales and quick fix blossom end rot solutions work, there’s one thing I do know for sure. The best method to control blossom end rot is to prevent it from happening.
Grow better tomatoes by knowing the basics of prevention. The basics I’ve shared with you above. Know them. Practice them. And own them. See results happen for you in your tomato garden.
Don’t You Dare Waste Those Blossom End Tomatoes
So, you still have to deal with all of these blossom end rot tomatoes. The question is: “Can you eat tomatoes with blossom end rot?”
The answer is: Of course, you can still use the diseased tomatoes. You just need to cut the nasty parts off. Then, use those tomatoes for making salsa, pizza or pasta sauces. Can the jars of sauce or salsa for later enjoyment.
Yes, you’re wasting some…you definitely should not ever eat the diseased part of the tomato. But cut that part off and enjoy the good stuff.
They are still delicious and super nutritious. Tomatoes are packed full of vitamins, minerals and even contain a little bit of Iron and Calcium. So, now you know what’s affecting your tomatoes. You now know how to prevent the disease from happening again. Your tomato growing efforts will not be wasted because you’ll use the diseased tomatoes for canning delicious recipes for later use.
Better Luck Next Year
So, I know you will take these prevention tips I’ve shared with you in order to grow great tomatoes next year. You now know how to fight blossom end rot in tomatoes.
You know that it’s important to prevent tomato plant stress. Plus, I’ve given you signs of tomato plant stress to watch out for since that is the beginning start of blossom end rot.
Please let me know in the comments how much you love or despise this post featuring blossom end rot. I hope it has helped you. Happy Tomato Gardening!
How do you use tomatoes with rots, scabs and discoloration?