Image credit: KLRU
I mentioned in my Lazivore Manifesto that it is important, when gardening, to cut yourself some slack when you fail. I even suggested that it is OK to give up and grow something easier. (It's a theme also discussed over at Planet Green in Organic Gardening 101: Be OK With Failure.) But sometimes failure hurts too much—especially when those promising looking green tomatoes start turning to black mush one by one. That's what's happened to me this year, with all my toms getting a serious case of blossom end rot. So I went in search of advice, and found this helpful video. Given how many people in my area complain about blossom end rot, I figured it was worth sharing.
For those unfamiliar with it, blossom end rot is a disease that shows itself in the form of a sunken, blackened tip on the blossom end of tomato fruits. While many online resources on blossom end rot point out that it is a calcium deficiency, and suggest mixing powdered milk into the soil when you plant, the video above echoes advice I received at the farmers market—the culprit is most likely inconsistent water supply.
It turns out that when rain or irrigation rates fluctuate, the plants have a harder time with the uptake of calcium. So while seaweed foliar sprays, or feeding with comfrey or eggshells, may provide some additional calcium, the best way to prevent the problem in the first place is to mulch your plants to regulate moisture. (It will also prevent weeds, add organic matter, and prevent the need for watering—so it's a win-win situation.) Perhaps counter intuitively, we are also warned against adding too much nitrogen-rich compost or fertilizer, which can also interfere with plants' ability to absorb calcium.
My tomatoes are most likely beyond repair this year (it's been a bad year for the garden), but next time I plant I'll be sure to spend some more time on mulching, soil preparation and will be a little more careful about both adding compost and watering. But this is a good reminder that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
At least I still have my cucumbers.
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