Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Is blossom end rot ruining your first tomatoes? Other issues?

Posted Friday, June 17, 2011, at 2:58 PM
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  • This got its name from the fact that the dead area of the tomato forms at the blossom end. Other insects can sometimes confuse the issue, but the main cause has been determined to be a lack of calcium.

    The increase of calcium in the soil would appear to be the first step to remedying the situation but there could be other reasons why the calcium is not getting to the plant so read the whole article.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 2:58 PM
  • The article is also not the last word on the subject so if you have remedies or suggestions not covered, PLEASE chime in.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 3:00 PM
  • I'm having issues with my Hollyhocks. The leaves will turn spotted, then eventually wilt and dry up. I used to just have it on established plants, but now, even new Hollyhocks have it. They will bloom, but they die during the bloom time or after. Strange thing though, the roots live and will come back the following year.

    Also, I DID find the squash borer worms in my squash plants. That's what's been killing them.

    I swear, every plant has a different predator...

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 3:10 PM
  • If my tomatoes were ripe, I would think you took a picture of one of mine. I will read the article and see what I learn. Thanks for the info.

    -- Posted by Sharon22 on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 3:38 PM
  • Next question: Where do I find calcium chloride or lime?

    -- Posted by Sharon22 on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 3:41 PM
  • I had blossom end rot last year and I started using miracle grow for tomatoes and I had a good crop after about a week.You can get lime at co-op.I use it for insect control.

    -- Posted by jdem on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 6:30 PM
  • I have problems with my squash. They are blooming beautifully, but not producing squash. Anyone else having this problem? The blooms just fall off.

    -- Posted by Poksalad on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 7:03 PM
  • Products to relieve this situation should be found at most garden centers, but remember the part about even moisture and mulching. We have had some real hot and dry days, so if this could be the problem, just adding lime will not help.

    Unless you do a soil test, it is probably better to try the moisture solution first, then add the lime sparingly and water it in.

    It will probably not correct any fruit that has already started forming, but new ones should should be better.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 7:04 PM
  • espoontoon, if the leaves at the bottom start showing this first, then works up the plant, I would suspect a fungus that is being spread by rain or overhead watering. We can discuss control once we have a good idea.

    If this is it NOT a symptom, I will need to work a little harder for a solution.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 17, 2011, at 7:12 PM
  • Try dissolving 1 cup epsom salts in one gallon of water and saturate the ground around the plant. Works great in Georgia, but our soil is more acidic than most in middle Tn.

    If that works, next year put one cup dry epsom salts under each plant at planting time.

    -- Posted by dmcg on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 7:56 AM
  • Steve, It does usually start at the bottom. The leaves will get these small brown/yellow spots all over them, until all those spots merge together on the leaf and kill it. It's definitely not due to overhead watering, and I didn't have rain for 20 days recently.

    But I think you may be right about the fungus. I just can't figure out the reasoning behind it...

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 8:28 AM
  • espoontoon,

    My hollyhocks have had this same thing for the last few years. I went on-line and found some chemical things, but I'd rather do things with as little chemicals as possible.

    One thing they called it was "rust" and to use pre-emtpive fungicide, but it seems a little late for this once they've grown tall. Chemicals listed are chlorothalonil and Mancozeb (sound scary!).

    They also suggest it could be some kind of weevil, but my plants seem to have more of the rust-looking thing than weevils.

    Hope this helps, but if you're like me, you don't really want to use scary-sounding chemicals! Surely there are other safer, more organic things to use.

    -- Posted by welkindance on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 12:52 PM
  • welkindance,

    I think you are correct. I've heard it might be rust, which I think is also a type of fungus.

    As many volunteer Hollyhocks that I have (I'm guessing around 50), I'm not sure I could afford to buy a solution, and I definitely do not want to use harsh chemicals....

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 1:15 PM
  • espoontoon,

    Yeah, the rust has been slowly creeping up the hollyhocks, but they've still been very pretty this year all the same. I have hollyhocks coming up all over the place ... I even have them growing in my gravel driveway, but I don't mind. I figure by the time the rust gets to the top of them, the hollyhocks will pretty much be played out anyway for the summer. I just love the things!

    -- Posted by welkindance on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 3:38 PM
  • Here is a less lethal sounding concoction to try:

    Healthy Hollyhock Spray

    1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

    1 tbsp. canola oil

    1/2 tsp. Ivory dish liquid soap

    1/2 C. white vinegar

    1 gallon water.

    Another possibility is to spray them with milk and water in a 1 to 1 solution. Possibly seals the spores.

    And lastly, sprinkle cornmeal around the plant in spring, summer and fall. Exactly why I am not sure, but cornmeal is also used to reduce germination of weeds seeds so possible this creates a barrier that is inhospitable to fungus spores.

    This all goes along with removing the dead leaves and not letting any dead leaves sit on the ground below the plant.

    Let us know if you try these and especially if it helps.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Jun 18, 2011, at 9:24 PM
  • I use Miracle Grow and epson salt on my tomatos and have had little problem with end rot. Oh, I also use blossom set spray.

    -- Posted by cherokee2 on Wed, Jun 22, 2011, at 11:43 AM
  • Blossom end rot used to be a big problem with our tomatoes. Now, when we prepare to set tomato plants in the garden, we drop in a couple tablets of calcium carbonate (ingredient in antacids such as Tums), add a small scoop of epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), fill the hole with water, let it soak in, and set the plants deep. Problem solved.

    -- Posted by wildflower727 on Fri, Jun 24, 2011, at 10:53 AM
  • Blossom end rot upsets my stomach, so that sounds just right.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jun 24, 2011, at 10:57 AM
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