I give my tomatoes antacid tablets. Here's why.

antacid tablets photo
CC BY 2.0 Treasure

So I know pill popping and vegetables don't mix. But blossom end rot sucks. It just sucks.

One minute, you have perfectly healthy looking tomato plants with fruits ripening on the vine. The next minute, dark spots start appearing at the flower-end of the fruit. Before you know it, a black mark has spread like the plague and they start caving in on themselves and going mushy.

This has happened to me more times than I can count. And this year, I'm trying my hand at an odd preventative trick: Crushing up a few antacid tablets and putting them in the planting hole before I transplant my tomato starts. You see blossom end rot is essentially a calcium deficiency, and several old-timey gardeners have sworn to me that antacid tablets—which contain a good dose of calcium carbonate—may help blossom end rot from setting in. By strengthening the cell walls, the calcium helps create tougher, more resilient fruits where blossom end rot can't set in. This blog post would seem to agree, suggesting crushing up tablets, dissolving them and applying them with a sprayer every month to help keep on top of any problems.

That said, I have no idea whether this will work for me. Other authorities, including this video I wrote about back in 2011 when I was still struggling with this problem, suggests that blossom end rot is less about a lack of calcium in the soil, and more a case of plants being unable to absorb enough calcium of the soil—often due to irregular levels of irrigation.

So, while I am hopeful that my antacid trick will serve as a good insurance policy, I am also pursuing a more time-tested trick: mulching the crap out of my garden to maintain consistent moisture levels.

And I am keeping my fingers crossed. Anyone else got any ideas?

Tags: Gardening | Organic Agriculture


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