Why Are My Beautiful Veggies Rotting?

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Picture this…you go outside to pick that beautiful fruit only to find that it is rotten on the bottom. Aaargh!!

blossom end rot on tomatoesThis is a common disorder known as blossom end rot. It looks like a disease but is a physiological disorder. It is caused by a lack of calcium. Generally, this disorder is most severe following extremes in soil moisture (too wet or too dry).

You may experience this disorder with tomatoes, squash, peppers, and even eggplant. The fruit will develop a brown or tan decayed area on the end that is not attached to the stem.

Don’t be discouraged, blossom end rot is easy to prevent. Just follow these tips:

  • Lime soil to pH 6.5 to 6.7 – Home gardens not limed in the past 2 to 3 years will need 2 cups of lime fore each plant. The lime should be worked into the soil 12 inches deep. To determine the exact about of lime, send a soil sample to the Agronomic Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, for analysis and recommendations. Soil sampling kits are available at our office. Soil analysis is FREE now until November 30.
  • Fertilize properly – Too much fertilizer at one time can result in blossom-end rot. Following soil test recommendations is the best way to insure proper fertilization. If there is no soil test, apply 4 pints of 10-10-10 per 100 feet of row, and thoroughly work it into the top 8 inches of soil.
  • Mulch plants – Use straw, pine straw, decomposed sawdust, ground/decomposed corn cobs, plastic, or newspapers. Mulches conserve moisture and reduce blossom-end rot.
  • Irrigate when necessary – Tomato plants require about 1.5 inches of water per week during fruiting. This amount of water should be supplied by rain or irrigation. Extreme fluctuations in soil moisture result in a greater incidence of blossom-end rot.
  • Spray calcium – The plants may be sprayed with a calcium solution using calcium nitrate or calcium chloride at 4 level tablespoons per gallon of water. This spray should be applied 2 to 3 times a week, beginning at the time the second fruit clusters bloom. These materials can be mixed with spray that is used for control of foliar diseases. Chelated calcium solutions also provide an excellent source of calcium. When using these chelates, follow label directions. Several foliar spray materials containing calcium are available and all work well for tomatoes.

Follow these tips, and I promise you, your next fruit harvested will be edible.

harvested produce in a basket