7 Tips to Stop Blossom End Rot and Save the Harvest
While annoying, blossom end rot (BER) is treatable and preventable. Caught early, your odds of a successful tomato crop are still good. In this post, I'll talk about blossom end rot causes, prevention and control; plus several photos to help you ID the problem and common mistakes to avoid.
There's nothing worse than waiting for your first big, beautiful tomato to ripen – only to flip it over and find a black rotten spot on the bottom. (Black tomatoes = tasty, black bottomed tomatoes = not tasty.)
Your black bottomed tomato has blossom end rot.
- What causes blossom end rot?
- Does Blossom End Rot Spread?
- Are tomatoes with BER safe to eat?
- How Do You Prevent Blossom End Rot?
- 1. Maintain steady levels of moisture to your plants.
- 2. Use a Balanced Fertilizer.
- 3. Make sure your soil is warm enough, but not too hot.
- 4. Avoid working too close to the roots of the tomato plant.
- 5. Check your soil pH before planting.
- 6. Add calcium to your soil.
- 7. Choose tomato varieties that are less susceptible to blossom end rot.
- Does Epsom Salt Help Blossom End Rot?
- Can overwatering cause blossom end rot?
What causes blossom end rot?
Blossom end rot is caused by the tomato plant not being able to get enough calcium to the developing fruit.
This calcium deficiency is not caused by a plant disease like a fungus or bacteria. (Fungicides and insecticide won't help.)
Blossom end rot may occur in tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplants, squash and cucumbers. Some describe it as a “water soaked spot”, but to me, it simply looks black or mushy and rotten.
Why don't the plants get enough calcium to the fruit?
This can be due to a number of factors, including:
- Moisture – Too little or too much – We've had dry conditions this summer. Even with mulch, I have lost some tomatoes to blossom end rot. Last week I heard from two different local friends who had problems with rotten, black bottoms on their tomatoes.
- Too much Nitrogen – Dump a load of fresh manure on your tomatoes, and you may be rewarded with lots of green growth and black bottomed fruit. The nitrogen salts may make the calcium in the soil less available to the tomatoes.
- Soil too Cold at Planting – More of an issue for northern gardeners, cold soil can interfere with nutrient uptake to the plant.
- Root damage due to cultivation – Aggressive digging around your plants (for weed control, for instance) may damage the roots. This would also interfere with nutrient uptake.
- Soil pH too high or too low – Either extreme of pH can make it difficult for your tomatoes to thrive
- Susceptible varieties – Certain tomatoes varieties are more prone to blossom end rot than others.
Does Blossom End Rot Spread?
Blossom end rot does not spread from plant to plant, but plants growing near each other may all be affected, since they share similar growing conditions.
Are tomatoes with BER safe to eat?
If the rot spot isn't too big, you can trim off the damage and eat the rest of the tomato. Make sure to trim well away from the spot, because the rotten taste can spread beyond the visible damage. (Ask me how I know…)
The tomato below is too far gone to salvage.
How Do You Prevent Blossom End Rot?
Once you see a black or dark brown spot at the blossom end of tomato fruits, they're a goner. You cannot “heal” a damaged tomato.
Prevention and control measures are where you need to focus to salvage the rest of your tomato season. Here are steps you can take to limit and control blossom end rot on tomatoes and other crops.
1. Maintain steady levels of moisture to your plants.
I use straw mulch to help maintain even soil moisture levels. If rains fail, make sure to give your plants a good soaking 1 to 2 times a week. Stick your fingers in the dirt around the tomato and make sure it's soaked several inches down.
You can also try water cones or soaker hoses to deliver a slow, steady supply of water. If stuck with heavy rains, trench drainage away from your tomatoes (if possible).
You may also encourage new roots above the sodden ground by heaping compost around the base of the tomato plant. (Roots can drown if the soil is too wet.)
Pot grown plants in particular may be more prone to blossom end rot, due to difficulty keeping the soil moist enough. Try self-watering containers or watering spikes in your container.
2. Use a Balanced Fertilizer.
Aged manure or compost is great, as tomatoes are heavy feeders – just don't use too much fresh stuff. There are also good organic fertilizers available to help give your plants a jump start.
For detailed planting instructions, see “How to Grow Tomatoes Organically“.
3. Make sure your soil is warm enough, but not too hot.
Tomato seeds need soil temps of at least 60°F (15.6°C) to germinate. Transplants can go into soil above 55°F (13°C), but growth will be slow.
A general rule of thumb is to wait for nighttime temperatures to be above 55°F. You can easily test your soil temps with a soil thermometer.
To raise soil temperature, you can cover your planting area with black or red plastic – or be patient. In summer heat, organic mulch can keep roots from overheating.
4. Avoid working too close to the roots of the tomato plant.
Pull weeds when you need to, but don't attack the ground close to the tomato with your hoe. Mulching helps limit the need for cultivation.
5. Check your soil pH before planting.
A soil pH around 6.2 to 6.8 is best for tomatoes. If you need to do a soil test, you can visit “Soil Testing – 5 Easy Tests for Your Yard and Garden” for more information.
Adjust with additional calcium through liming the garden bed to raise the pH.
Lowering pH is best done over time through the use of organic mulches and compost. Leaf compost is particularly effective. (You can use this meter to test both pH and moisture levels.)
6. Add calcium to your soil.
I work in crushed eggshells at planting time. If you don't have eggshells, try a few cheap calcium antacid tablets.
A handful of garden lime or gypsum also works. Spread a sprinkling of lime onto the soil surface, work in gently, cover with mulch, and water well.
There are also rot stop sprays that can be applied to the tomato foliage.
7. Choose tomato varieties that are less susceptible to blossom end rot.
This is a little tricky, and is a good reason to keep a garden journal. I've seen in my own garden that some varieties are much more likely to develop rot than others.
In my garden this year, those varieties more prone to blossom end rot included San Marzano, Orange Banana and Better Boy.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crop was largely unaffected.
Amish Paste, Opalka, Blue Beauty, Stupice, Glacier, Black Cherry, Mortgage Lifter, Arkansas Traveler, Tigerella were among those without a problem.
A more scientific study was conducted by the University of Illinois. They found these varieties to have a low incidence of blossom end rot, with losses of less than 10% in severe years:
- Fresh Pack
- Jet Star
- Mountain Pride
- Pik Red
And these varieties had a loss of 15 to 30% or more in severe years:
- Big Boy
- Castle King
- Wonder Boy
Does Epsom Salt Help Blossom End Rot?
Although commonly recommended as a “cure-all” for tomato plant, Epsom salt is not a good choice for stopping blossom end rot. It might even make the problem worse.
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. It contains no calcium. Magnesium and calcium ions vie for the same spots in the soil and plants, so extra magnesium may make exacerbate a calcium deficiency. It's better to use the options above to make calcium more available.
Note – a little extra magnesium at blossom time can help with fruit set. Just don't go overboard.
Can overwatering cause blossom end rot?
You betcha. Either too much water or not enough water (or rapid swings between the two conditions) can trigger BER. Use the methods listed above to help maintain even soil moisture.
I'd love to hear your experience with which varieties are more or less prone to be affected by blossom end rot in your area. If I missed any tips that work for you, or if you have any questions, please share those, too.
More Tomato Growing Tips
You may also enjoy:
- Grow Tomatoes from Seed – Save Money, Get More Varieties
- 4 Reasons your Tomatoes Aren’t Ripening
- 5+ Terrific Tomato Trellis Ideas
Originally published in 2016, last updated in 2019.
Very timely. I’ve lost a few tomatoes so far this year despite using eggshells when planting and adding tomato food to the soil. Pretty sure my issue is a moisture level that hasn’t been consistent. They’re looking better since I started watering a bit every day. I need my tomatoes to make my salsa 🙂
Good luck. We’re in the same boat. The plants just aren’t producing like they should, even the ones without blossom end rot. One patch has been soaker hosed, and I think I’m going to get more hose.
all you need to do is go lowes asan ex ampl garden ctr. get abag of calcium nitrate scater around tom. bed in about no more black rot one applcation is usualluy enough 84ys gardning well almost
Thanks Frank. I’m taking your advice!♥️
I have two potted tomato plants. I used miracle grow soil plus I feed weekly with miracle grow. I water the same etc. One has blossom rot and one doesn’t. Can’t figure it out. The one with the rot is a beautiful huge plant. The other had a late start, almost lost it due to drowning. Now it has more tomatoes and not as pretty as the other one with the rot. Go figure. Might try feeding that one twice a week instead of once. Hmmm never had this problem before. Good luck to you and your plants.
Are they different varieties of tomatoes? Some are more prone to BER.
I have had my tomato container plant growing beautifully. However, seeing the tomatoes starting they are showing blossom end rot. I want to salvage the remaining blooms. Any ideas?
Try top dressing with compost and mulching the soil surface to help maintain even moisture (if you have room) and adding crushed calcium antacid tablets or other calcium. Do what you can to maintain even soil moisture.
I give a little water every morning but is that over watering? I’m so worried because my first tomatoes had BER and new ones are forming and dont want it to happen but I’m not sure of the cause.
It’s generally better to water more deeply and less frequently than shallow daily watering. You want to keep the soil moist, but not too wet.
Melanie, do you have a good salsa recipe .would appreciate.
[email protected]. Thank you!
How do you do it? Maintain a homestead and family, write books, blog… I am really impressed. Truly. And I am so grateful you are willing to share your knowledge. Thank you!
I’ll be honest – many days are pretty messy and long, and I don’t get nearly as much done as I would like. For instance – I *thought* I’d have my first print book done several months ago. Instead, after writing, editing, adding additional recipes, taking new photos, getting the first proof back and hating it, here we are months later, getting ready to submit a completely updated color version to order a proof. Fingers crossed that this one turns out like I envisioned it.
The boys are getting older now, and are a huge help around the place. I want them to know how to do what I do, so they can pass it on to their families, since the odds are that their spouses won’t have the same type of background. Of course, with them getting older, it also means that they may move on to pursue other interests. The eldest will likely be a tech guy like his dad, but the younger fellow thinks he wants to make a go of making a living off the land, so we’re planning and planting to make that happen.
Sometimes I’m exhausted and ready to quit. Then I take a walk and wiggle my toes in the grass, sample a tomato fresh off the vine, still damp with morning dew, take a look around at the amazing diversity of what we’ve created out of what was once nothing by grass, and I feel rejuvenated. Or I pop online and see a message from a reader who “gets it”, and it makes it worthwhile.
In other words: you’re human! Thank God! I am so grateful for your work and for sharing it with us. Thank you!
Thank you for your kind words, Anne.
Great for your son. I would love living off the land. That has been a dream of my husband and I for decades. We unfortunately rent and abide by rules. We have a large garden (in todays times) and raise birds & eggs which is far from enough. Sadly we cant raise our own beef and pork. Many people are waking up to the risks of buying everything in a store. You have no clue whats in it and the flavor is so bad.
There are quite a few things we would rather not eat than buy in the store because of exactly what you said. It reminds me of something that happened with my father-in-law years ago. He was over helping to build the deck the year we had our first real garden here. I ran inside to fix a quick supper while the guys finished up. They came inside before it was quite finished, so I peeled some cucumbers, sliced them and spread them on a plate with a little salt for them to munch on while I worked. My father-in-law said he didn’t like cucumbers, but my husband convinced him to try the ones from the garden. The look on his face was priceless. He said, “I don’t like cucumbers, but yours don’t taste like cucumbers.” I explained that these tasted the way cucumbers are supposed to taste.
Now he looks forward to harvest time, and is happy to try whatever vegetables I serve.
Right now we only raise our own meat birds and purchase beef from a neighbor who maintains a strong organic grassfed herd. Supporting small farmers is good, too. There are so few left. Hopefully you are able to connect with some in your area to help supply what you can’t grow yourself. We’re all in this together.
Love it!! I agree that it is all worthwhile when you take time to look at all the beauty around us. Sometimes a nap or good night’s sleep helps to give a fresh start or fresh perspective. Thank you for all you are sharing Laurie!
We should get together, My Family say’s I should do How to video’s and share my skills and knowledge, maybe I will, the Calcium in the soil is an excellent Idea, and using a trickle watering system on the tomatoes keeps the soil at a uniform moisture level , put it on a timer. This year is the first year I built raised garden beds, 12″ deep 24″ off the ground, 5′ x 2′ My family refers to them as coffins. rule of thumb for spacing is 36″ between plants, using the “Coffins” i get 5 plants in each, and plant them using the #5 dice pattern, and cage them, using this method you need to periodically trim the “Big” leaves to avoid over crowding, I can send you some pictures if you’d like, just send me an e-mail.
It sounds like you have a nice set up.
I’m at laurie at commonsensehome dot com if you need to reach me.
I only seem to have the bottom rot with my Roma tomatoes. Is this common?
It was for me, which is why I stopped growing Romas.
Great post! I add crushed eggshells to the soil around my tomato plants, and use chicken manure compost. So far so good! You have some great tips in this article.
Hi Lisa! Nice to see you “visiting the garden”. I find my biggest factor here is really the moisture. We’re having one of those years (again) where the rain goes south, north or just evaporates before it reaches here. Yesterday I installed soaker hose through my main patch (20 plants), and we’ve started hand watering the other 30, which are spread all over the rest of the garden. Time to buy more soaker hose.
mix up some epsom salt and water i Tbls. per plant
It was my understanding that the magnesium helps with blossom set, i.e., getting the fruit to form, but I haven’t seen anything indicating that it helps with blossom end rot. Has your experience been different?
You are correct. Laurie, magnesium sulfate won’t help prevent BER. Foliar sprays won’t help. either.
Eggshells should be powdered then mixed with vinegar (raw ACV is best) until the fizzing stops. One tablespoon of that mix dissolved in a gallon of water will travel from the soil up the xylem and to the fruits, preventing most BER.
Could you provide more specifics about your formula with egg shells and ACV? Ratio of shells to ACV? How many times do I water with this mixture…once or regularly?
I was curious about this as well. I found a YouTube video saying to wash, dry and then pulverize the eggs shells. Then, use 1 tablespoon of the pulverized shells with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and mix with a gallon of water. It’s like a science experiment – somehow the acid of the vinegar brings out the calcium, making it quickly available to your tomato plants. 🙂
I’ve never used vinegar. I just throw them in a shallow pan in the oven and then they are heated anytime I use the oven. When I’m ready, I crush in a food processor what I need and sprinkle around, work into soil about 2-3 inches. What is the purpose of the vinegar?
That is exactly what I do. My first year in the garden was absolutely horrible. Had blossom end rot consistently and could not stop it. Then I read about epson salts. Now in the spring when I plant my plant I dump a handful of epson salt in the plant hole. And then in the summer when plants start to bloom I sprinkle a a little over the roots. I have not had a problem since. This will be the 4th year.
I have my first crop of tomatoes in 4 years thanks to Actinovate for fungus.
I have tomatoes in a friend’s garden–I don’t think this is the year for good tomato crops.
South Ky here.
Too dry in some areas, too wet in others, too hot in some.
In my garden, the Roma tomatoes seem to be having the most problems with blossom end rot. Thinking I’ll try Amish paste next year instead.
We tried Amish Paste this year and same problem. All paste-type or roma-type we’ve tried have been bad, as have Aurega, a gorgeous small, sweet orange tomato. It’s definitely a variety issue with us, because we have a lot of success with other types.
We had these problems. It would be step #8 to stop blossom end rot, and more importantly black bottomed tomatoes. In our situation it is because we grow out ‘maters in ‘tainers. The treatment was to use a root and soil conditioner. This is a 9-0-0 fertilizer with 5% calcium. Plants are fed 3 times over a 8 day period. Lisa (above) mentioned eggshells which would have calcium, but I don’t know how long it would take for the Ca in the eggshells to be available for the plants.
Laurie, as for your comment above about heat and wet or dry…. There are four things you can talk to any gardener about, too hot, too cold, too wet, and too dry. That’ll cover it.
And then there’s the other gardener comment that goes right along with it – “Just wait until next year!”
Thanks for a great article. My boss just texted me a picture to me what this is. I sent him your comprehensive article.
My San Marzano tomatoes have definitely had the most troubles this year. First and last time I’ll grow them. The others have been fine.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Mari, and for sharing the post.
I use fertilizer 9-12-12 contains calcium to help prevent splitting and blossom end rot.. works great…
First time growing San Marzanos……and the first time I’ve had blossom end rot. Doesn’t help that it’s in a container. Hopefully I can save it this year, then next year, I’ll make sure to put it in the raised bed.
I stopped growing San Marzanos because while they are extremely prolific, they are also extremely prone to blossom end rot. I much prefer Amish Paste, Opalka, and Orange Banana paste tomatoes.
Back in the 40s, Dr. William Albrecht did a great deal of research on soil minerals. He found that most soils have enough calcium, but need a release agent to free the calcium. That would be boron, found in 20 Mule Team Borax. One part boron to 1,000 parts calcium seems to be the proper formula, according to Dr. Albrecht. A professional soil test, typically available from Land-Grant universities, will show the current calcium to boron ratio. Google “Dr. Albrecht” to find how to apply the calcium/boron formula. Unless you garden in Death Valley, where boron is mined, your soil probably needs some boron.
Thanks for the note, Daryle. I started googling, but coming up with the right info is elusive at this point. Lots of more general info on Dr. Albrecht’s work, but very few specifics on how to apply it. I’ve heard of him before, but haven’t read his work. I think a thriving mycorrhizal population in the soil would also serve to unlock available minerals.
A couple of things you might want to try: Google “Dr. Cho” late of Korea, now living in Hawai’i. He is, or his father was, the expert in IMO. It’s what Korean natural agriculture harvests as indigenous micro organisms … what we call mycorrhizal populations. I make a fair amount of lactic acid bacteria from rice and milk. I turned some loose on cucumbers a year ago, with the leaves growing to 10 inches across.
The other source that may help is SoilMinerals.com. These folks are Dr. Albrecht proponents offering quite a bit of information, but one monograph tells about Boron from 20 Mule Team Borax (it’s about 10 % boron) in particular.
Interesting. I’ll have to add that material to my ever growing reading list. Did you see the Mycorrhizal Planet book review (https://commonsensehome.com/mycorrhizal-planet/)? Lots of myco info, but nothing specifically on rice grown cultures. Of course, the author of Mycorrhizal Planet runs a biodynamic apple orchard, so different frame of reference. We inoculated some of the garden and trees this year, and have been using more ocean and fish products and ground minerals.
I know I’m a little low on boron here, because my broccoli sometimes have hollow stems, which is another red flag.
It looks like a good book. I have a first edition of ‘Mycelium Running’ by Paul Stamets, who founded Fungi Perfecti.
There is an article on how to use rice to grow lactic acid bacteria (mycorrhizal soil activators). I used some LAB on a tomato plant that produced a 42-inch root stock. The article tells how to start and grow the LAB from one cup of rice. It’s a fairly good article … I wrote it.
Paul’s book is another one I need to read. I’ve watched his TED talk, and read some of his articles, but not his book – yet. The LAB approach sounds practical. Michael’s book was often more focused on what the mycorrizhal fungi were doing, and how to encourage the spread of introduced strains, but little info on jump starting your local strains.
This year has be the exception for root rot, non producing runaway vines. GREW my own plants from seed. Planted nothing but Beef Steak variety. Dug 2 ft hole with post hoe digger, dropped in fish parts, a hand full of rice hulls from local chicken house clean out, filled hole with water then covered back with dirt. One week later planted my 10 inch tall tomato sets. Mulched with straw and put my rolled rebar fence tomato cages up same day. Watered everyday for a week and never touched plants again till harvest. Results: six foot tall, large stem dark green plants that are constantly producing the best sized, best looking tomatoes I have ever grown. Took 3 dozen to our church produce give-a-way, and they we the talk of the event. Think I’ll do it again!!
Sounds like you found a winning combination!
Do the tomatoes taste fishy? I know someone who uses river water to grow his acre of sweet corn. I taste nothing but fish when I bought some.
I though lime is used to neutralize soil and make it less alkaline . So would that not reduce the ph level of the soil?
Lime is used to neutralize soil, yes, but it’s added to acidic soil to make it more alkaline, raising the pH of the soil. The pH of hydrated lime for industrial use is around 12.4, and agricultural lime would have a similar pH range – highly alkaline.
How much ACV to powdered egg shell? Dr Cho puts the powdered egg shells in a large container due to the possibility of lots of foamy reaction. Keep adding small amounts of ACV until the fizzy reaction stops.
Add one tablespoon of this mix to one gallon of water. Pouring the water mix directly into the soil around the tomato works better. Keep the plant well hydrated.
Thanks Daryle. I have one more question…do I use the egg shell/vinegar mixture to water all summer long or just one time?
I’m new to gardening and this is my first time trying a tomato plant. Someone told me to put compost in the soil so I bought Miracle Gro Natures Care Really Good Compost. Could I have put too much in which resulted in calcium deficiency?
Minerals in the soil, “plant food”, are held by adsorption. Think static cling. Clay and organic material hold minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Rain can wash off clinging minerals … so I usually add the calcium mix when watering right through the season. Just put less mix into the water as the tomatoes grow bigger. Test the pH of the soil to maintain a good level (6.4).
I use alot of Eastern red cedar lumber of which I plane down. Can I use the shavings for mulch in my container tomatoes and other vegetables?
You can, but you might run into some trouble if you do. In some cases, cedar causes contact dermatitis with repeated exposure. (I don’t know how much, if at all, you’ll be touching the mulch.) Cedar can also ward off beneficial insects along with problem insects. If mixed into the soil, cedar can tie up nitrogen, inhibiting plant growth. You may want to experiment with a light layer around some plants and see if you note any negative effects.
My Stupice all are bad
Even the ones I gave away seedlings to friends
Wonder if it’s too dry in Seattle this year
I have watered regularly the plants are even in different beds
The Roma’s are unaffected
Stupice struggled for me in 2016, too. If I remember correctly, I think they were also hit with septoria leaf spot as well, much harder than most of the other plants. That summer was cool and very dry. We laid down soaker hoses in the patch, but it wasn’t the same as a good rain.
I have 6 early girl plants, three of which I planted up in Northport Michigan on the shore of lake Michigan’s Traverse Bay in very sandy soil. It is what they sell for “topsoil” up here but that the locals call “topsand”, that is sold by excavating companies – they remove it to build homes, and sieve it and resell it but a lot of sand comes along for the ride. I bought it for the entire garden area but dug 18″ down for the three tomatoes and added some miracle grow potting mix, some peat moss, and a sprinkle of granular fertilizer (10-10-10). I have blossom end rot on every tomato so far. I have a sprinkler that runs 35 minutes every two days. Had better luck last year but did not use the potting mix. I shifted the position of the three tomatoes about 18 inches so they are planted half way between where they were last year – last year was the first year grown there in the new garden area. Now the other three are planted in a raised bed in East Lansing, MI where soil is a lot richer (far from any lake shore). These three have no end rot at all but this is the first year I have planted tomatoes in that raised bed. Some how you have to keep putting tomatoes in new places so they are not in the same soil two years in a row – better three years before going back to the same spot they were previously planted or so I have believed. But that may not be about blossom end rot but about preventing other diseases.
Most of what I see regarding tomato planting recommends the rotation schedule you suggest, largely for disease prevention, as you note. That said, I’ve also seen references that swing to the opposite extreme, saying that tomatoes love to live in the same spot and even thrive on compost made from tomato plants. Commercial greenhouses, even some organic ones, grow tomatoes in the same space year after year, because that’s the space they have dedicated to that crop. You work with what you have available.
For the sandy soil, I’d highly recommend more organic matter to build up its ability to hold moisture, specifically compost or well rotted manure worked into the soil, along with organic mulch on top that will rot into the soil over time.
Keep an eye open for diseases, but if you need to plant in the same spot without a three year gap, don’t worry about it. Just monitor plant health and adjust accordingly. You can add elements like Effective Microorganisms or compost tea foliar sprays to help populate leaf surfaces and soil with good microbes for extra protection if you like, but the best defense is to look to the health of the soil and plants, and ensure regular deep, even watering.
Last year grew Brandywine which yielded 9 lbs per plant and had 20% blossom end rot. This year planted Early Girl, Campbells and Manitoba which yielded 20 lbs per plant and ZERO blossom end rot. What I did different is when planting I took one gallon ice cream buckets and cut a 4 inch hole in the bottom. I dug a sizable hole in the garden and put the roots of the seedlings through the hole in the bucket, then planted the bucket in the ground to about half of its height, packing dirt around the bucket. I added a handful of Miracle Gro / with calcium to each. Then I simply watered each plant each day by filling up the bucket. I did no foliage spraying. We had a dry hot summer, max 34 degrees Celcius. I started from seed in the third week of February. We live in Red Deer, Alberta. I believe the consistent watering made the difference.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Do you know much about Bacterial wilt in tomatoes? My large area raised bed has this problem. Tomatoes wilt from top overnight when about 4 ft tall. . So sad.
Why does nobody find A CURE for this terrible scourge?
Thankfully this isn’t a problem I’ve faced in my garden, but I know how frustrating it is when plants fail to thrive. We had late blight go through back in 2010 and wipe out much of the crop.
For us, winter cold clears out some problem microbes – like the late blight fungi.
You didn’t mention where you were at, but solarizing the soil is another possibility to drop levels of problem organisms. You wet the area down (before planting) and cover with clear plastic for several sunny days.
Specific tomato varieties may be more resistant to the type of bacterial wilt that you face, so that’s worth looking into as well.
You may also want to check out some non-conventional ways of boosting your tomato plants immune systems, like microbial inoculations, playing classical music (only early in the morning) and foliar feeds. I touch on these in the article about growing tomatoes organically https://commonsensehome.com/grow-tomatoes-organically/2/.
It may sound a little nuts, but as I’ve gotten older, I focus more on building vibrant health than “curing” anything. There will always be threats to the garden. The more we can build a healthy, abundant ecosystem, the better plants are able to overcome these problems.
I feel for you bring temporarily sidelined. I had hip replacement and was doing great and had a small bone chip off same hip from syrgery setting me back.. Limited so much while garden season is here, flower beds need work, etc. These thi gs too will pass I tell myself and rejoice!
Ouch! What can they do for a bone chip?
Knock on wood, my back and bottom are doing better, and I think the hand may be a little better, too. Giving both some TLC and trying not to overdo it.
Time is supposed to be healing it.. The bone chip was connected to a muscle. It was very small supposedly.. Im not quite back now at 4 weeks to where I was at 10 days when the muscle pulled off the cracked/splintered bone. But I’m progressing. The hip surgery recovery was a breeze!
Glad the surgery went well, and praying that all mends as it should.
I’ve noticed that my small, green tomatoes often have the dead blossom still stuck to their bottoms. On the off-chance that that dead blossom is “seeding” the rot on the tomato, I’ve begun wiping the dead petals off of the baby tomatoes. Not disputing the well researched calcium theory here. Just tending to my plants.
Healthy fruits should be unaffected by any lingering bits of blossom. If there’s a fungal issue, then clearing off blossom residue may help.
I’ve had mixed results. The one year I grew Brandywines (multiple plants) they were virtually a complete writeoff to BER. The Supremo tomatoes ( a paste type) are really prolific, but I typically lose 10 – 20% to BER. I’ve found that in my case the first set of tomatoes on a plant seem to be more prone, with those coming later less so. I’ve read in a couple of places that if the plant grows too fast it can’t take up enough calcium sometimes, and BER results. I use Earthboxes, and try to get the soil and lime in the box at least a few weeks before planting. I’ve tried epsom salts and calcium nitrate in the past and neither seemed to make a huge difference. I also went back to using pulverised eggshells directly in the hole 2-3 Tbsp- (I’ve got a LOT of crushed eggshell) this year and so far only have seen a couple tomatoes with BER. They’re not ripening, but at least they’re not rotting (yet).
If it’s driving you completely crazy try growing cherry tomatoes. Never had one on our Nectar tomatoes yet, or on the Maglia Rosa tomatoes I used to grow.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve never had blossom end rot on cherry tomatoes, either.
All very interesting – and thank you, but I grow in a green house with growbags. I therefore ask is there anything specific to this type of growing have lost 1 plant of nine to BER
I haven’t had a lot of luck with grow bags. It’s tough to keep them evenly watered. My mom would take the entire bag and soak it in a basin every few days to wet it evenly, but that’s tough with large plants.
I have Roma’s bought from Lowe’s. I used a 10-10-10. Weeks before planting. ( I used raised beds due to heavy clay soil). At planting time I put epsom salt( tablespoonish). Crushed eggshells , Gypsum. And bone meal. And lightly incorporated a 4-4-4 fert. Getting blossom rot. Mainly on First to turn red.. toss. On utube saw guyI used a powdered milk and small amount of soil acidifier or white vinegar. My main problem is my house water test at 8.5., soil is generally 7.5 to 7. Tested rain water from collection barrels. It tested at 8 ph. I know calicum needs a co- binder for plant uptake. Side not tried beets they poofed I know they like boron. Used dog hair but… back to point. I think my water it way to height in ph at 8.5 sorry about mess of a letter. Tired.
It sounds like you should have plenty of calcium in the soil from the various amendments, so getting it to the plants does seem to be the bottleneck.
You mention a lot of different things, but what about plain compost and mycorrhizal fungi? Healthy compost normally contains a lot of bacteria and other microbes, that help to break down minerals in the soil to make them more available.
Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that form symbiotic relationships with plants. They spread through the soil and break down nutrients to make them accessible to the plant, and in return, the plant shares carbohydrates to the fungi. They should naturally show up on their own over time, but tilling the soil disturbs their growth, so many gardens are lacking. You can buy the spores in granular form to jump start the population. Amazon stocks small containers that aren’t too pricey if you want to give it a try – Root Naturally Endo Mycorrhizae – 4 Oz.
Mulching the soil surface with organic material will also help maintain uniform soil moisture, and add organic material to the soil as it decomposes. Fall leaves will also help to gently acidify the soil.
To prevent Blossom End Rot all you need to do is add 3-4 cheap Dollar General antacid tablets, (750-1000mg), to the tomato hole when you plant. Also, add 3 more tablets as soon as small tomatoes are noticed! (Just poke a hole with your finger near the stalk, place tablet and cover hole). A professor at Clemson University told me this process wouldn’t work – “tomatoes require different kind of calcium”. He was full of “manure”…….I’ve been doing this for 10+ years…..NO Blossom End Rot!!! (Prior to using the antacid tablets, had BER on almost all my tomatoes, (all heirloom, ole-timey types). Oyster shells, egg shells, calcium spray, etc. DID NOT WORK. Cheap “rolaids” is the BEST WAY TO PREVENT BLOSSOM END ROT!!!
Gardening is therapy for me. Its just enjoyable. I never did much research until recently on the internet. Even though I find the information helpful some of it is just too scientific for me. It takes the pleasure of gardening and makes it a chore. So I’m going to take Craig’s advice and try DG tabs before buying expensive fertilizer and other treatments. Let you know if it cures the black rot here in SC!
8:21 Coconut Coir contains a very high level of potassium – which inhibits the uptake of calcium by most plants.
There were a few other studies on Coir vs. Peat moss. I grow in containers (my soil is rock hard in Arizona) I had bottom rot big time on my tomatoes when I used soil with Coconut Coir (although the plant looked nice)- last year I changed to no manure / no coir – planted in soil with peat moss – and I have had NO bottom rot for two years now.
That is interesting. Thank you. I had not seen this information before.
Dealing with Blossom End Rot in Nevada. Not sure why. Moisture is an issue, but I can’t add less!! Gardening feels almost impossible here since I go camping nearly every weekend in the summer, and the lack of water over the weekend makes the tomatoes look like they got hit by a train. I have tried everything from deep mulch and deep watering before I leave (enough to leave a puddle). I water aggressively every day or the tomatoes wilt by 9 a.m. and the leaves dry up.
Nitrogen should not be an issue since I have just used a little compost based soil amendment.
Are you growing in a container or directly in the ground? Have you added plenty of calcium to the soil?
Have you tried a drip watering system? You can set up a simple system for each plant by inverting a large jug near the plant (or multiple jags, if needed) with the bottom cut off. Fill the jug as needed, and let it slowly feed into the soil. Depending on the situation, you might leave the lid on the jug and punch a few holes in it for a slow feed, or take the lid off if it has a narrow opening, like a 2 liter soda bottle.