Monday, May 26, 2008


Check it.

A fat, juicy Brandywine cut down in its youth. So nasty a squirrel wouldn't eat it. That, my friends, is the heartbreak of BER -- blossom-end rot.

Apparently, this is caused by a calcium deficiency within the fruit. That can mean that the soil needs more calcium, in the form of lime or bone meal. But more likely, it's that the calcium isn't moving into and through the plant efficiently, which can be caused, helpfully, by either too much water or too little water. Shallow cultivation, that is, dragging your hoe around the plants and breaking near-the-surface roots, can also cause that calcium disruption.

So what did I do wrong?

After getting on the bone meal train this year, along with my regular use of Rabbit Hill Farm Minerals Plus, I feel pretty good about my soil's calcium content.

I haven't gotten near the plants' roots since I planted them. They're all buried under several inches of mulch, which has also kept the soil moisture pretty consistent.

I want to say that it was the 3 or 4 big thunderstorms we've had that dumped a lot of water on the garden. That's a good scapegoat, since I can't do much about it. However, only tomatoes in my raised beds have been affected. You would think those growing in the ground in clay soil would have gotten more thoroughly soaked.

I guess I'll just take comfort in the fact that BER usually goes away after the first few tomatoes. The first few precious, precious tomatoes.


Blogger Katie said...

Bummer! I just checked my tomatoes tonight and one of them had blossom end rot.

I saved egg shells all winter and ground them up with a mortar and pestle to add to the tomatoes to resolve any calcium deficiency, yet when it came time to plant them, I TOTALLY forgot about adding them along with some organic fertilizer I bought.

Hopefully adding compost to the top of the soil will help!

May 29, 2008 7:50 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Quite a bummer. I've probably lost a dozen or so to it. The real pisser is that for some reason, the ones that have it tend to ripen prematurely, so I keep spotting bright red tomatoes only to find they have mushy brown bottoms.

May 30, 2008 11:09 AM  

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