How to Handle Blossom End Rot (In Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Eggplants)

This is an entry in this month’s contest “How To Grow Tomatoes; Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials”.  A big reason for this contest is to have a living resource of information we can all reference in the future.  Be sure to rate this article – your vote is important!

Right now a lot of gardeners may be experiencing the same thing that I have in my garden: blossom end rot on my tomatoes, bell peppers and some of my eggplants even. But cheer up! There is a way to overcome this scourge.

This condition is caused by uneven watering. While we can’t change what Mother Nature decides to do with the skies, we can be aware of the days when there is no rain and make sure we maintain an even moisture level in the garden. Drip irrigation is the best way to achieve this.

Mulch is a great thing to add to keep roots cool and to keep moisture from evaporating too fast. About two to four inches of a good organic mulch such as hay or dried chopped up leaves is a good amount to put around the plants. It’s also a great weed suppressor. Keep it just a bit away from the stem of the plant.

An additional cause of this condition is insufficient calcium in the soil. When there is not enough water, plants can’t move calcium from the soil throughout their bodies.

Agricultural gypsum or just plain old lawn lime is the solution to this problem. Side dress the plants with it, which means pull back the mulch and sprinkle it in contact with the soil, about four to six inches away from the plant. Then cover it back up with the mulch and water it in well.

Here’s a final tip to help you get the most from your tomatoes: pick them just as they begin to blush, when they still have a little yellow (or purple or green depending on the variety) on them. Make sure there is a bit of stem left on it and they will ripen perfectly on your kitchen counter. (Never put tomatoes in the refrigerator, as that destroys the taste.) That way they won’t attract pests who love that just vine ripened flavor – both the flying and the footed kind.

Another perk of picking early is that it stimulates the plant to put out more fruit. So pick early and often for the best tasting fruit (or vegetable if you prefer to call it that.)

We are giving away five prizes this month!  Winners get to pick one of the following; a copy of the “Grow Your Own Groceries” video set, or a copy of the “Alternatives To Dentists” video set, or 3 months of free membership in the Core Community.  If you want to enter this month’s contest click here: http://growyourowngroceries.org/contribute-here/

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