Blossom-End Rot: Prevention and Treatment


 Full Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is a destructive disease affecting mainly tomatoes and peppers, but can damage other fruiting crops such as eggplant, watermelon and summer squash. It is a perennial problem, meaning that as a gardener, you will deal with this yearly in your garden. There are two approaches to working with blossom end rot – prevention and reaction, or a primary and secondary solution. Unfortunately, most gardeners only realize they have a problem when the fruit are showing black spots on the end. This is the acute phase – once there are problems - and immediate action is needed to prevent further damage to fruit that is just beginning to set.

What Causes Blossom End Rot?

We will look at the underlying causes of blossom end rot, along with what happens and what can be done about it in the prevention as well as the acute phase.

As mentioned, blossom end rot will affect more than just tomatoes and peppers, but we will focus mainly on those as this is what most gardeners’ experience. Just tuck the other varieties into the back of your mind, and you’ll have a jump start if you see it strike them. In reality, the prevention will most likely have a beneficial effect for everything as you will be creating an environment that won’t support the cause of the problem!

Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of enough available calcium in the fruit at the blossom end. What most often alerts us is a black spot or patch at the blossom end of the tomato or chile, opposite of the stem. This black spot is a secondary issue caused by a fungus attacking the weakened fruit. Contrary to what many think, we aren’t aiming for the eradication of the fungus and resulting black patch, but fixing and preventing the cause of the problem – lack of enough calcium. Correcting the underlying issues that lead to the weakened fruit will automatically prevent the fungus from being able to attack.

Why Calcium is Important

Let’s start with the problem and work backwards, to better understand what is needed for both an acute fix and a preventative approach for blossom end rot. Calcium is a very important part of the growth process for plants and the proper development of high quality, tasty fruit as it contributes to healthy cell wall growth, insect resistance and helps to regulate many cell processes. Calcium is non-mobile in the plant once it is imported, meaning the plant can’t move it from one part of itself into the fruit, or from one part of the fruit to another. Thus, the tomato or chile plant needs a continuous supply of calcium as it grows, flowers and produce fruit all through the season.

2/5/2015 6:58:15 AM

We have chickens and save our egg shells. We finely grind them and add to our garden soil in the fall. We also add a few to our chicken feed.

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