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by Kathi Sharp
(Somers Point, NJ, USA)
Q. I am using cal-mag and chicken poop for my potted tomatoes and am still having problems with blossom end rot. I have tried everything from using products to watering variations in order to try to curb this problem. I'm at my wit's end and ready to give it up for good. What else can I do?
A. Blossom end rot (BER) cannot be reversed on a tomato once it’s set in. But that doesn't mean an entire plant's harvest is ruined. BER is most common in early- to mid-season. Most plants outgrow BER as the season progresses, especially when watering and feeding are consistent. So take heart! Don't give up on your tomato plants just yet!
In addition to applying calcium or ready-to-spray natural products, add quick-release lime to the soil so it has plenty of calcium which can be absorbed quickly. Tomatoes grow best when the soil pH is about 6.5.
You can use natural products specifically developed to treat, prevent, and slow blossom end rot in tomatoes: Enz-Rot Blossom End Rot, a concentrate that can make up to 8 gallons, and Tomato Rot-Stop in a ready-to-use spray bottle. Follow package directions for application.
Watch the amount of chicken droppings you apply. Fresh manure can prevent calcium uptake, which causes the imbalance that leads to BER. Instead, apply tomato fertilizer that is high in phosphorus (the second number in a fertilizer’s three-number series), like 4-12-4 or 5-20-5. Too much nitrogen in fertilizer (the first number) can also prevent calcium uptake.
Pick affected fruit to reduce stress on the plant and allow it to direct its energy to other tomatoes. You can also cut out spots on harvested fruit and eat remainder. Blossom end rot does not make the rest of the tomato inedible. But if tomatoes have been infected by fungi or mold, discard them.
Learn more about blossom end rot.
Good Luck and Happy Gardening!
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