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Blossom End Rot – The #1 Tomato Killer

Still Striving for Sovereignty

Yikes.  Do you remember my ‘tomato sauce sovereignty’ project where I am growing a bunch of tomato plants so that I can, well, not have to buy any more tomato sauce?

In that article, I talked about the specifics on how many plants you need to grow to get a 6 month supply of tomato sauce for your family.

Well, I had some big healthy plants growing, nice fruits developing, and seemingly perfect weather… and then disaster struck!

Read more: The Tomato Sauce Sovereignty Project

The #1 Tomato Killer

It’s the most common tomato problem we hear about, and it can affect pretty much everybody regardless of where you live.  So, if you haven’t experienced it yet – this will be a good article for your to keep on file.

The #1 tomato killer is… (drum roll please…)

Blossom end rot.

Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot also affects squash, eggplant, watermelon, and peppers.  Here are two photos showing blossom end rot in various stages on my tomatoes.

Blossom End Rot in Tomatoes

Blossom End Rot - Group of Tomatoes

Calcium imbalances are the big issue that creates blossom end rot.  Calcium helps the plant ‘bind’ itself together, sort of like glue.  Calcium is taken up fairly slowly and plants definitely need water to move calcium.  The biggest cause of blossom end rot is wide swings in soil moisture – especially if the soil gets very dry.

Water and Blossom End Rot

We had been getting some intermittent rains – a 1/4″ here, an 1/8″ there, and all around me was lush greenness.  So I got a little complacent about checking my soil moisture levels, thinking they must be good.

Now grass and wildflowers can thrive on a surprisingly small amount of rain – or even dew.  Long grass is especially good at retaining moisture.  A tip for those of you who live in dryer areas is to put your mower up on its highest level when you mow, leaving the grass as long as possible.  But all that lushness from my wildflowers and grass had me fooled.

Read more: The Finger Test for Soil Moisture

The Cause of Blossom End Rot

In between the rains, we were having the typical Texas summer pattern of windy dry heat.  And the actual soil moisture got quite low.

So if the tomato plants get too dry, or if they are over-watered and grow too quickly, then calcium doesn’t have enough time to travel through the whole piece of fruit.  And that is why the end rots.

Here are a couple of other factors that impede calcium absorption:

• Not enough calcium in the soil in the first place
• Damage to the roots
• Excessive heat or cold
• Too much nitrogen in the soil
• Large amounts of salts in the soil
• Soil pH too high or low (the ideal is around 6.5)

Will Blossom End Rot Spread?

Note that the tomato plants need calcium the most when the fruit sets, which in many regions is when it starts to get dryer.  So you’ve really got to watch your soil water levels.  Also, as the fruit comes on, you might think you should add nitrogen fertilizer to give the plant a boost – but hold back on the nitrogen as it interferes with calcium uptake.

But here is the good news.

Blossom end rot is not contagious, and there are things that you can do to immediately help the plant and still get a good yield of tomatoes.

How to Handle Blossom End Rot

First, pick off any fruits that are affected – no need to have the plant waste energy on them.  Secondly, apply a fast source of calcium to the plants and soil.  I am going to try a couple of products specifically designed for this problem and I’ll let you know the results. I’m also researching survival sources of minerals – like could sheetrock, which is mostly gypsum, be used as a source of calcium?

As many of you know, I don’t like to be dependent on buying stuff from the store, so if you’ve got any suggestions for a home made quick calcium source, please put them in the comments section below this post.

But lets also talk about how to prevent this in the future.

Read more: 15 Homemade Fertilizers

Preventing Blossom End Rot

First off, make sure your planting area has good drainage, at least 6 hours of sunlight, and work in a lot of compost to ensure you’ve got a good amount of the necessary minerals.

Secondly, determinate tomato varieties tend to be affected more than indeterminate varieties because they grow more quickly. So if you’ve had problems with blossom end rot, make sure you plant some indeterminate varieties.

Protect plants from excessive cold or heat, and make sure you water evenly.  A drip system or soaker hose and lots of mulch is the best way to go.

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This post was written by Marjory

COMMENTS(0)

  • Nancy McGlinchey says:

    Just exactly why gardening frustrates me so. Last time I tried it my peppers, strawberries, cucumbers and lettuce got eaten by some microscopic creatures and the one tomato plant that was fairly lush acquired ugly tomato worms.

    Hi-Ho. It’s the grocery store or farmers’ market for me!

    1. wink tidwell says:

      There is a little known product that will protect your vegetables from worms, and its organic, so you can harvest the same you use it!
      It’s marketed under them name Organocide, worm & caterpilr control. It is a biological insecticide for organic gardening! It will protect anything you grow from worms and caterpillers! And, it only takes a teaspoon per gallon of water in your sprayer! Very economical!
      For every problem in your garden, there is a great solution!

  • gwyn says:

    Marjorie,

    While not practical on a large scale, people who just have a few tomato plants may want to save the water from making hard-boiled eggs, and (after it cools down) water their plants with it.

    Also, regarding calcium for your soil and for your chickens, why don’t you grind up your eggshells and feed them to your chickens and put them in your compost?

    GQ

    1. Tera says:

      My tomatoes have had bad end rot. Last year, I blended up egg shells and mixed them into the soil when I planted my tomatoes. No end rot!!

  • TJ glidden says:

    last year we saved our egg shells then when we planted our tomatoes we added a handful in the hole, also put just a small amount of epsom salt in the hole, stirred it all up, then planted the tomato. We didn’t have any loss to blossom end rot. In the past it had been a problem.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      TJ,

      thanks so much for relaying your experience. So many folks have had good results with eggshells!

  • John Adams says:

    I saved egg shells all winter. When a batch got totally dry, I pulverized them in my food processor. Collected these powdered eggshells all winter and sprinkled on the tomato-to-be ground before putting the plants in. This is an experiment. I’ll be able to tell when harvest time comes if it made any difference.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      John,

      Keep us posted on your results!

  • sclindah says:

    Marjorie,

    I’m in South Carolina so I can relate to dry and heat. here’s one thing I do that has eliminated blossom end rot. I take all of our egg shells and let them dry a little and then crumble them up all over. the garden. I do this year round. Ifigure all of the good minerals including calcium leach into the soil. I do this year round and it has worked for the past two years.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thank you for sharing your results. I really appreciate hearing about what actually works!

  • Grandmama says:

    We add crushed egg shells to the planting area for tomatoes. didn’t realize it was for the calcium.

  • Tom Haynes says:

    I have been collecting and crushing my eggshells rather than putting them whole into the compost bin. I sprinkle them around my plants and will do more around my tomatoes and see if we can avoid this plague. I will put some in the coffee grinder for a very fine powder. Thank you for the heads up.

  • Nona Rawdin says:

    Really have no land, live in a condo/townhouse. I got large pots and planted an organic tomato plant as an experiment. It is growing like crazy. Planted it 4 weeks ago and it now has 15 tomatoes in various stages of maturity with many more blossoms coming out. The soil is not the greatest, but I put organic fertilizer and coffee grounds in it. I will get more pots and plants next year if I get the tomatoes I seem to be getting. I would love to plant other veggies, but I don’t know what will grew in the pots. Gets lots of sun and I water in the AM. Suggestions?

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Nona,

      Oh I am so glad you are having such great results. You must be a natural with plants.

      You can grow almost anything in pots… I suggest growing what you most love to eat! But really cucumbers and vining aquashed can be grown with a trellis incorporated into the pot. Beans, chives, potatoes, oh my pretty much whatever you want.

  • Margaret says:

    My great grandmother swore by eggshells.
    When planting the plant, put an eggshell in before the plant. It will slow release as the plant grows.
    Also, use the water from boiled eggs on your plants.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Oh yes, the boiling water too. I like that. Thanks.

  • Marjorie,
    I use Calcium in my pool which comes in a big tub called Calcium Plus. I’m not sure if it’s cheaper to buy it this way, and if there’s anything else in the calcium (could be checked by quickly scanning the ingredients), but it keeps the pool water from corroding the finishes and filter somehow. i bet there are bags of this that are just calcium that may be cheaper than buying plant calcium. Just a thought. My container is like 10 gallons and lasts forever.
    Take care,
    Keep the great ideas coming!
    DeDe

  • Donna says:

    Hi Marjory, sorry to hear about your tomato problem, but thanks for the learning experience. I have a slightly if fervent problem….my tomatoes have plenty of bonemeal, water, etc…..they have plenty of blossoms, but they don’t seem to be getting any fruit. What could be the problem? Thanks.

    1. Meg says:

      Hi Donna,
      Bone meal in small quantities generally is great to start off your tomatoes, squash etc in and even though it is high in Phosphorous which these types of plants need, it is also usually very high in nitrogen and low in Potassium. Check the label and NPK ratio of your brand if N is a lot higher than P&K then all this is doing is promoting lots of lovely leaf growth (flowers are simply adapted leaves) .
      What you need for anything that is fruiting a high P&K count – citrus foods are good for this as they are designed to promote flowering and fruiting.
      The another thing could be there are not enough bees/pollinating insects in your area to pollinate the flowers. If this is the case then you will need to hand pollinate with a small artist paint brush.

  • Donna says:

    Sorry about the typo in my previous post, I normally proof-read before sending….these stupid IPads think they know more what you are trying to say than you do. In my previous post it should have read; I have a slightly different problem….not slightly if fervent problem….I don’t know where these IPads come up with this stuff!

  • Becky Osment says:

    Would ground egg shells work as a source of calcium?

  • Dr. Jeff says:

    Marjorie!
    Sorry to hear about your ear infection!
    The best survival antibiotic you can have is “NutraSilver Plus”.
    It is the highest concentrated colloidal silver I have ever found, and if you use that topically in your ear, and use a diluted form in your Neti Pot (with sterile saline water), you will go a long way to clear that (and sinus) infection up!

    All the best,

    Dr. Jeff Van Rensselaer
    Chiropractor

  • Joe says:

    First of all: Blossom end rot is NOT the major killer of tomatoes.

    The major killers are Early Blight and Late Blight.

    Secondly:

    All you need to do to take care of blossom end rot in tomatoes is this:

    When you plant your seedlings, put 1 heaping tablespoon of crushed eggshells in the bottom of the hole you have dug. Mix it around in the soil and then drop in your seedling.

    Plenty of slow-release calcium in the eggshells and the tomatoes with thrive.

    Now, as for Early and Late Blight . . . THAT is another huge problem.

    Joe

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks Joe,

      funny, blight has not been a problem for me, or much of the community around here – yet…

      I apprciate your comments.

      1. Cheryl says:

        I have had much more trouble with blight than blossom end rot. Last year I did the same thing as Joe, saving egg shells, crushing them in the blender and adding to the potting hole. In the Fall when I was pulling up the plant I noticed that a lot of the egg shell was not decomposed. I wonder if that has to do with the absence of earth worms and a dry year?

  • clayfarmer says:

    I’ve heard that powered milk works, but I’ve never had reason to try it. Might be something interesting for you to test out, since most preppers keep powered milk on hand. Thanks!

  • Ray says:

    It is my understanding that if you mix equal parts of powdered milk and Epsom salt together and add a tablespoon to the hole you are transplanting your tomatoes into (add a bit of soil between the mixture and the plant) you can beat the blossom end rot problem. I don’t know first hand if it works but it seems like it should help.

  • adrienne says:

    I experienced blossom end rot my first and second year. So last year when I first saw blooms and again when I saw small fruit I lightly scratched in powdered milk into the soil and just watered every other day like normal. I DID NOT experience blossom end rot last year. I will let you know if it works for me again this year.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Adrianne,

      Yes, please keep us updated.

      Thanks

  • mr. verdi says:

    ‘ IF ‘ we mulch in those high heat areas, then we can take up some of the slack when it comes to moisture and tomato’s. I also like the drip technique for watering my Tom Tom’s because the ‘slow and easy’ method gets the water down deep….as opposed to flooding or ditch irrigating which makes my babies crack and I can swear that too much water changes the flavor, thus, the regular drip application be mobetta. Now to ‘ blossom end rot’ and calcium deficiency. I believe that, under these conditions right now, I would take some phosphate rock or colloidal phosphate of rock, or bone meal, and place a shovel full (if you have 15-20 plants) in 10 gallons of water and let sit 3-4 days and stir frequently to help break down and make soluble. Then apply a half gallon to each plant but first, and always, when feeding from the soluble standpoint, make sure you have watered within the last24 hours or you may just burn the plants. It also doesn’t hurt to water the mixture in, depending upon whether you have a porous soil (like in sandy loams) or a clayish type. In the mean time, I always plant my maters using a combination of organic powders/additives with mulch and of course some bone meal or phosphate rock. Usually I mix them all in the hole position where the plant is going and then you can’t miss with nutrients all being available and the mulch providing some moisture holding capacity.

  • Douglas Dexheimer says:

    Gypsum board, also known as plaster board, is mentioned in one of the articles I just read. Gypsum is calcium Sulfate, and tends to acidify the soil, whereas lime, or limestone: calcium carbonate, is not acid but basic. If you are shooting for an end pH of 6.5, it makes sense to determine your soil’s pH first before adding Gypsum or Limestone, to result in the desired pH. Either one will give a dose of calcium.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Douglas, Thank you for that clarification.

      1. Meg says:

        I would suggest never do this plaster board can have a lot of other nasties (heavy metals) in it depending on where the base ingredients are sourced from.

  • Lizabeth says:

    Besides the obvious eggshells, I built a biochar burner and add bones to the wood when I make biochar. Then not only does the biochar add calcium to the soil, but it acts like a sponge to retain moisture. I am in north Texas and the heat has really come on. I am finding myself watering the garden only once a week because of the biochar, wool mulch (from our sheep) and wood mulch on top of that.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      OH Lizabeth,

      Yes, that is another excellent idea. Do you have plans for how you built the bio char burner? I’ve head so many good things about bio char. When we had the fires a while ago I thought to try getting a bunch of the burned wood, but life get in front of me and that project never came to fruition. I am so glad to hear of your results. I am sure the bio char retains a lot of water. Only once per week in N. Texas is an accomplishment.

  • Don Lefforge says:

    I heard that was caused by not enough magnesium not calcium. The cure is putting in epsom salt when planting them. A friend from England that is 78 now said that they used epsom salt in England when he was young when planting tomatoes.

    1. Meg says:

      Don, Epson salts is very high in magnesium and would probably be needed to counted the already high levels of calcium in the soil in some places in England. It really does depend on where you live and what the base mineral ingredients of the soil are in your area.

      My suggestion to anyone starting a reasonable size garden is do a soil test first before you go adding anything to the soil other than compost. You could be wasting your money on stuff you don’t need or making a problem worse by putting what you think you may need on it.

      Otherwise make your garden, plant and then wait and see what the plant tells you it needs.

  • Barry Petrie says:

    I have been able to stop the rot by adding crushed eggshells around the base of the plant. It is high in calcium and breaks down quickly for absorbtion. It is also a really god deterant for cut worms as they do not like the sharp edges of the shells against there body.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Excellent Barry,

      Thanks for posting.

  • Kathryn says:

    As I use eggs, I save the shells and allow them to dry out. Then I
    crush them and use them as an additive to the soil in my garden. You
    can also mix them back into the chickens’ feed as a mineral supplement
    for them-handy if you’re low on oyster shell, which can probably also
    be useful to add calcium to the garden.

  • Mike Hammar says:

    Mullin flower oil based tincture is the “go to” for herbal earache treatment.
    http://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      That is such an excellent article on Mullen and its uses. I know mullen grows in this region, but I don’t know of a stand close to me. I wish I did, I would try it.

      Thanks for posting.

  • Brigitte Dollarhide says:

    When the plant start producing blossoms, I put 6 eggshells to a gallon of water in a blender and water the plants with it to supply additional calcium

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Wow, so many great comments about eggshells..

  • Robfam says:

    I used crushed egg shell. I also use a fork to crush them into a powdery substance.

  • Robi says:

    Ground up egg shells when planting and again as a side dressing are great for Calcium.

  • Denis says:

    One of the things with adding mulch is you are raising the levels of nitrates. Beautiful plants, but prone to blossom end rot. By adding calcium you help pull other minerals and nutrients into the plant. I use a liquid calcium spray on called “Super-Cal”. You will see a difference in the first week. I use it once a week until the rot is gone, then every other week after. Apply a heavy dose for the first time. It won’t hurt the plants.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks Denis!

  • todd matthews says:

    Marjory, would calcium from egg shells leach into the ground? Ground up egg shells sprinkled on the soil might work. You could experiment with it and test PH balance to see if it is affected by it too. My chickens love their own egg shells to replenish the minerals they need.

    Good Luck!

    Todd Matthews
    Utah

  • Ear infection: I grew up with lots of ear infections. I don’t know how to stop them – per se but, putting drops of rubbing alcohol in your ears will toughen them up so you don’t get them anymore. If you already have an ear infection, the alcohol will make it burn like the dickins. Have someone blow in your ear or have the hair dryer handy. It stops burning when the alcohol dries up.

    It’s best to start this AFTER the infection clears up. I got this from my Dr. when I was a kid in the late 60s & early 70s. I use it today to keep my ears healthy.

    Once we started this, the ear infection cycle was broken. (every 2-3 weeks.) I’ve had ear infections since then but, not nearly as bad as when I was a kid. (How do you think I know it will burn like the dickins?

    Good Luck with clearing up your ear infection. Thanks for the Blossom Rot article. I’ll keep an eye out for it on my tomatos. I really like what you are doing. I wish I had the energy to do more than my 3 4’X 8′ plots of garden. My next goal would be to raise chickens. I’m just not sure how I would go about plucking them. (As you can see, I’ve missed reading quite a few of your articles. I’ll get to them.)

    Rosalie Mangen

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      HI Rosalie,

      I am going to write about the methods I am using to treat the ear infection. I’ll keep you posted.

      Hey, good job on your small plot – every bit counts.

  • Kal Kalvert says:

    I read your article, and i use to have the blossm rot issue. I use a lime by product called basic slag. Its a fast acting lime by product and it will not burn your plants. At a local coop i purchase it for about 4 dollars per 50 pounds.

    Hope this helps

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks Kal.

  • Sheila says:

    Last year I used organic buttermilk and it worked quite well. poured it on the soil for the roots to drink up and also splashed it on the leaves to protect from bugs and disease, and it worked quite well.

    I plan to use it again this year!

    Love from Wyoming!

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Sheila,

      Ohh another good suggestion. Sounds like it is working too. Thanks.

  • Arland says:

    never burry the old vines and then plant tomatoes in the same place the next year. They should be burned not composed as some people do.
    I learned this the hard way

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks for that.

  • Walter says:

    My Tomato Book suggests ground agricultural lime to add calcium to the soil.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Yes, Ag lime probably works fine – my concern is where do you get lime when times get very difficult? Is there a way we can do it with just what is around us?

      But thanks for posting!

    2. Mr. Verdi says:

      ya mannnn….use Dolomite…aso has many trace elements that you can’t get elsewhere. Sometimes I alternate with oyster shel flour. My potatoes like this also…especially if you have heavy loam or clay type soils.

  • Brooke says:

    Hi Marjory! My plants got blossom end rot last summer so I decided to take precaution this year. I read online that crushed up eggshells planted with the tomatoes will help with calcium absorption so I did that. If I still see end rot this year, I plan on powdering the egg shells in my blender and spreading them around the base of the plant. That darn blossom end rot got so many of my tomatoes last year that I’m determined to keep it under control this year 🙂

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Oh Brooke! Eggshells, yes, that is a great idea. Please keep us updated on how it goes.

  • Gottalovechickens! says:

    Uh-Oh! Any time we have experienced blossom end rot, it was due to too much rain. This year is no different, but at least there seams to be more showers than downpours. We, too, planted a lot of tomato plants. Canned juice/sauce has a lot of cooking applications: soup, vegetable, salsa, drinking. When I was very young, it wasn’t unusual for families to have a small orange juice glass full of tomato juice for the meal. This is not a common practice anymore, but we felt it needed to be introduced, at least for us,again. Tomato is a vegetable(botanically a fruit) and a good one at that.

    I purchased heirloom tomatoes, Rutgers, Ramapo, and Amish paste. I know that at least Ramapo is indeterminate. Our growing season is not going to challenge an indeterminate plant much.

    Do you plant year round? Would it be best to have spring tomato planting and fall tomato planting–or do you do this already? Do you breed your rabbits in this same manner-in the cooler weather? I know this if O.T., but our rabbits are very sensitive to the heat, and we bring the bucks indoors for those heat spells. We would bring the kits in as well, if needed. I would be interested in your rabbitry if you were inclined to post about it.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Gottalovechicken,

      Thanks for [posting again. Yes, I do plant twice per year, and try to keep a few going in between – tomatoes are so nice to eat! LOL.

      Regarding rabbits, I cannot breed them in the summer – too hot. I really bred them a lot during the cooler months so I have a good amount to carry me over the summer and a bit into the fall until they get going again. This summer we are experimenting with having the rabbits run free range… uh, it is sorta working OK. But yes, that is another story and I’ll be posting. If they weren’t free range, I have misters on them to help keep them cool (regularly have 100+ degree days here).

  • Paula says:

    All such great ideas for blossom end rot.

    What about if the tomatoes are splitting at the top, and sometimes 3/4 of the way down. I lost a lot of tomatoes 2 years ago. Is it to much water? Or is this a mineral deficiency?

    Thanks for all your great articles!

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Paula, off the top of my head I’d say that splitting is usally due to too much water, but I’ll check and see. I rarely get too much water and haven’t had that problem before. Anyone else reading this want to chime in?

      1. Mr. Verdi says:

        Yep…I concur Marjory. You can always tell when the farmers at the farmers markets are flooding their tomatoes, they are mostly cracked from being watered too close to being harvested. Most of the time, the best flavor in the tomatoes comes from starving them of moisture but ya just have to have that touch. Thats why I like drip irrigation toward the end of the cycle towards production. You can get them some moisture without over doing it.

  • Sudsie Kelm says:

    Wikipedia has a long article about how to grow great tomatoes. Here’s their recommendation for avoiding Blossom End Rot:

    Boil one gallon of WATER with one Tablespoon LEMON JUICE. Add six (6) tablespoons of BONE MEAL. Stir well. Boil gently for 30 minutes, covered.
    Let it cool. Pour One (!) Quart around the roots of each plant. Repeat in 3 – 6 days.
    This is probably more effective than the oven-dried eggshells, rolled fine by rolling pin in a zip-lock bag and worked into the soil.
    I’m counting on the first one this year.
    Suds

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Sudsie,

      Yes, thanks for your comments. We can make bone meal by crushing up the bones from the home butchering. Isn’t Wikipedia awesom? I should’ve looked there… LOL

      Hey, let me know how your tomatoes turn out with the eggshells. There have been lots of comments that they work.

  • Lizabeth says:

    I modeled my kiln after this one:

    http://youtu.be/dqkWYM7rYpU

    It is easier to build than some of the other versions online.. I put my bottom vent holes on the lowest part of the side rather than under the barrel like he did. This way I can kick sand and cover the holes if I want a slower burn. Also, rather than stopping the fire with water like he does, I smother it with coffee grounds or compost. I have heard water hitting the hot coals can be very bad structurally for the biochar. I don’t use the burner when it is hot and dry because of fire hazard. But it is great in the winter months and a great way to recycle bones and any kind of dry organic waste that would be inappropriate for the compost pile.

    I think the wool mulch is a big part too why the garden in the shade house is doing so well. It seems more effective than wood mulch and biochar alone (I put the wool under the wood mulch so that it is a covered sponge). But newly planted fruit trees with just biochar and wood march were showing no signs of heat stress today (100 degrees) even though the last moisture they had was from rain a month ago. Trees i planted last year without biochar were showing signs of stress yesterday. We have very sandy soil so we need soil amendments to hold moisture and nutrients.

  • Grog says:

    As above egg shell, if you have it, as to other options, do you have access to either cattle or goat milk? while not as long term as shells, a few ounces max over a period of time may work. Again without buying more stuff, if not needed. You raise food animals, so perhaps look to collecting the bones and processing for bone meal would , perhaps be an option?

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Grog,

      I am going to do a podcast with Jack Spirko on getting most of you buthering carcass and will add using the bones for fertilizer – except I boil them down a bit firswt to make broth for me! LOOL. Hey , I’ll post that episode once its recorded.

      BTW, I like your email name “consulting for hard times”

  • Megan says:

    Use ground eggshells. If you don’t have any available right now, dissolve a tums or 2 in water to feed each plant. Add crushed eggshells to the soil as they become available.

  • Lizabeth says:

    You are growing moringa. That is high in calcium and other nutrients. How about making a compost tea out of that as an alternative if you don’t have dairy animals and need calcium in the root zone quickly.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Oh Lizabeth… What a good suggestion. Yes, moringa is very high in calcium. I need to grow more of it… LOL. I never seem to have enough.

  • Lizabeth says:

    Something I forgot about: there was a recent study using urine and ash on tomatoes and it worked great. The urine provided the nitrogen and it acidified the ash which provided phosphorus, calcium, etc. together they are suppose to make the perfect fertilizer. I tried it this year, but I think I used too much in that my tomatoes got too much nitrogen.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/09/090918-urine-ash-fertilizer.html

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks so much for pointing me to that article Lizabeth. I contacted the author to see if I can get permission to re-publish it here on my site. Very useful information.

      BTW, I’ve been using urine for many years – as I show in the video set “Grow Your Own Groceries” (OK, I can plug my own vidoe once in a while, yes? – LOL).

      But seriously, there is a lot of plant avaialble nitrogen in your urine.

      But yes, getting too much nitrogen later in the growth phase for tomatoes only produces more foliage – I’ve experienced that.

      Dilute urine is so good when they are seedlings though.

      But thanks again for that link to the artilce – that was a really useful one.

    2. Mr. Verdi says:

      Try not to have any nitrogen especially soluble in your fertilizer application on your to maters when they are past the halfway point in their growth cycle. When you see many pea sized mater bulbs, they are not needing nitro much as that point. A lot of nitro at that point will only ‘confuse’ the plant when it should be heading towards production and root stimulation instead of producing leaves. yeeaaaaa

  • Carl says:

    Know how frustrating this can be.
    Have a problem with deer, squirrels, and rolly pollies (pill bugs) not in that order. Going to try diatomacheous earth on the bugs. Will have to resort to electric fencing for the deer. Squirrels? Air rifle.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Carl,

      I use dogs to run off deer, squirrels, rabbits, etc. I have a whole section of the video set “Grow Your Own Groceries” on using dogs to protect your food supply.
      The DE should be good on the bugs.

  • JayJay says:

    Powdered milk.

  • Shaz says:

    I use comfrey leaves which I soak in a covered garbage can for 2 to 3 weeks , the leaves trim in to liquid. comfrey is very rich in many minerals especially calcium. it’s nick name is bone knit and used internally to assist broken bone to heal. I use it on tomatoes, peppers and my flowers, they all love it. I had 300lbs of tomatoes from 36 plant and the largest chilies you’ve ever seen. I would never have a garden without comfrey. It can be cut 5 to 6 times per year and used directly on plants as a mulch, plus it is a perennial and the first plant to come up in the spring.
    I have over 100 plants sourounding my garden, orchard and and herbs

    Ps…I enjoyed you on coast to coast
    Shaz

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Shaz,

      Yes, thanks for that comfrey, while considered a terrible weed in some places is a wonderful plant. It has a very difficult time here – the heat and driness gets too bad – although I do know one herbalist who babies hers along and keeps it going. Yes, bone-knit is its common name.

      1. Shaz says:

        1/4 bale of straw layed around the plant as mulch when it is first planted will grow a health plant. When we had a drought here the comfrey did great this way.

    2. Mr. Verdi says:

      Shaz….you can also feed it to chickens and hogs and rarely have them experience any nutritional disorders and the hogs never have that nasty taste in their meat after butchering.

  • Susan says:

    I’ve had good success with sprinkling powdered milk on the soil around the plants. With a very rainy season, I’ll apply several times. It doesn’t attract critters as egg shells often do.

  • Nancy Muller says:

    My granddaughter used powdered milk for calcium and it worked…I tried it when she told mr and yes, it worked great…We just spread it on the ground around the plants…before that I always used this liquid I got that you would spray the whole plant with…

  • Bob says:

    Early and Late Blight: Actinovate. Organic, Amazon. Plus, planting boxes like GrowBox. Planting medium from Premier Pro Mix BX. Worth the extra money.

  • June says:

    My husband is currently having good results with eggshell powder (made in the food processor). But my tip is how not to waste the green tomatoes with the end rot. I cut off the rot part and cubed the rest of the usable green tomato. I dusted the cubes with cornmeal and seasoned salt (you could batter, but I’d rather not). Then fried them in a little safflower oil. Delicious fried green tomato chunks made a perfect compliment to grilled pork chops, broccoli and Konriko pecan rice!!

  • Meg says:

    Marjory looking at your photos it really seems to me that you have plenty of calcium in your soil without additives. The fruit nearly made it to full ripeness are beautifully formed if you had a big lack of calcium I would have expected smaller fruit and more distorted.
    I think for you this time it was simply a lack of water so the calcium could not be uptaken as it should have. Before adding anything I would concentrate on insuring measured doses of water are constantly supplied. Best of luck with your sauce project

  • Meghan Mac-Rhyann says:

    Make a potion from pelleted lime – 2 gallons of water to 1 cup of pelleted lime (I toss in a handful of bone meal for good measure). Let it sit for about half an hour or more. Stir it well (quite a bit of it won’t dissolve – don’t worry) and then scoop out three or four cups of the potion around the base of each plant. This is the emergency fix – crushed (powdered) eggshells or even oyster shell in the planting hole is the prevention for next year – and, as you’ve found out, balanced watering matters as you don’t want to damage those roots. The lime may rescue a plant that has dried out, or not, but it’s easy and certainly worth a shot :-).

  • Mr. Verdi says:

    Hi Marjory; Prior to helping some friends install their next big garden, I found that they were having difficulties balancing their soils nutrition. First order of business was to plant a cover crop. Cover crops can assist a lot of areas but the one thing for certain is that they take the nitrogen from the air(legumes like favas) and their roots have rhizomes which are very beneficial. All in all,the roots of cover crops do kind of anti-gravity by bringing up trace elements from the sub soils and their material when tilled in can assist with moisture retention and keep the soils from cracking in the heat of summer. I always stressed a one to 2 inch light tilling or scratching to hold moisture below longer. As far as tomatoes directly though; if the soils were heavy with some degree of clay, I would use gypsum which is a mined rock which is very coarse and breaks up the heavy clay allowing root and moisture penetration between its particles which really helps the potatoes also. I would essentially make up a blend of 5 parts phosphate rock (either soft colloidal or the regular rock phosphate will do. If no phosphate rock then use bone meal…ALL are OMRI sanctioned) one part hard wood ash like almond or walnut or oak are ideal(no pine or eucalyptus please…too acidic), one part dolomite lime for trace elements and if I could get worm castings or a ***well digested compost or manure, 2 parts…mix all ingredients well in a wheel barrow and then dust the row and till in or mix around the plants directly. Other times, on occasion, to get more direct immediate results, I would take a 35 gallon trash can and fill with water and mix 3 shovel fuels of phosphate rock (and if you wanted to, use the entire dry ingredient procedure and toss that into the 35 gal trash can with water stir as often as possible for a couple days and pour the liquid, i/2 gallon per plant. Also…very important….never feed plants like this when they are completely dryed out as it could be to potent around the roots. This will end your root blossom problems and give you some very nice maters.I would not use any manure in this mix if the tomatoes are past the halfway point in their growth cycle as it would increase the nitrogen levels which is fine in the very beginning.

  • Marcus West says:

    I sprout my seeds in eggshells just cut the top off a little pour out the egg save the shell put in some organic soil a little azamite and then the seeds put this back into the egg carton you saved and you can sprout the tomatoes then plant the whole thing into the ground shell and all. This is supposed to keep insects away from the sprouts too. That is the way I do it.

  • Mary Dixon says:

    When we plan tomatoes we always spread 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt (magnesium) and 2 tablespoons of land plaster (gypsum) – calcium around the plant and water it in well. No blossom end rot in NC.

  • gerald o cameron jr says:

    Love my tomatoes, my garden is 22 — 100 ft rows for over 30 years now. Blossom end rot is in the past for my garden. Soil ph is maintained at 6.5 to 7.5 always, UofG lab does my ph test every 3 years now. All my rows made with 2 row 36 in equipment, for tomatoes 3 ft apart start with 3 legged cage. Grow my own seedlings Better Bogs Early Girls and Rudgers do best for my. To maintain my ph I use Dolomite from Florida, 6 months active, regular lime takes almost a year to be active. For each of my 260 tomato wife would put a little Epson salt and Black Cow in hole before I planted seedlings. All my tomato rows are on beds 6 in high 16 in wide flat top with 2 Blue Strip drip hose beside plant. When all are planted apply handful 5-10-15 around each plant. No overhead watering on any of my plants. Turn my drip on about 6 am off about 12 pm when needed. As plant grows out of 3 legged cage I put a 28 in diameter 47 in high field fence wire cage over it with a T post driven in ground so wind can not blow it over. My tomato rows are 2 rows skip a round the 2 rows again, plant peas in skipped row. If I see any sign of Blossom End rot when pruning I spray Calcium Nitrate. Have not needed to spray past few years. With my plants been over 6 ft tall, pruning lets air flow easily, I can see thro plants.
    As for using sheetrock, well it may work ok lime stone from Nova Costa is bought in to sheetrock plant in very large blocks. has to be broken down until it is almost like a powder, goes into large cooking container. Heating is applied for about 12 hours then move to another cooker and other stuff is added. Then going into a very fine grinding machine where Boron and paper and water are added, then it comes out onto a converter paper is there and top paper is added as sheetrock is being made at about 180 per min. so yea could use sheetrock but really do not know all that is in it.

  • Joan says:

    Please don’t use sheet rock. All of it comes (or most) from China. Many people have had to replace this in brand new homes. Do you realize that China incorporates their waste products in whatever they can. Including metal products. Buy American and check that out also.

  • Janet Weakley says:

    I read somewhere that if you plant your tomatoes with egg shells(organic) it puts calcium in the soil.

  • Tina says:

    When we encountered blossom end rot, a friend gave advice to water with baking soda water. So I also went to the local Nursery and asked their advice. They also advised baking soda water once a week. We only watered twice and the blossom end rot was taken care of. That was just a quick fix. The soil lacked minerals.

  • Robert Ray Wiles says:

    I have read this and thank you greatly for this article. I once tried to join your organization but for some reason the computer would not take the final cash out. Then life got in front of me and I have not again tried. Anyway I have a tomato problem. All the leaves are curling up. It is new soil which I composted with horse manure. The plants are growing but do not look healthy with the curling in leaves on all the new growth. In the greenhouse they were fine, but when planted in New Mexico they curl in. So at first I thought it was wind and direct sun. Now I am considering that perhaps there is too much nitrogen. Could too much nitrogen make this happen? If so what can I do to get the leaves to open?

    I would be glad to join your organization, yet because I am not that computer savy, I have not tried again.

  • Meghan says:

    You could try making your plants a calcium smoothie – just blend up some kale, spinach, powdered milk and maybe a pinch of dolomite (or even azomite) and puree then mix that with some water and pour it on the plants. It will also help them recover from any areas of the roots that were damaged by a lack of water as well as infuse them with tons of immediate and slower release calcium that will prevent this from happening again this season.

    I don’t want to write a whole article but the sour blueberries in New Jersey are probably being harvested too soon. I made that mistake as well. You don’t pick them when they are just blue – they need to be kinda fat/bloated looking and really dark blue. A good rule of thumb is to leave them about one week after they are blue but watch them and if they start to look less juicy/fat then get them off. It’s nigh on impossible to have soil too acidic for blueberries so my bet is she’s picking them too soon – I’ve never found much difference in the flavor of varieties of blueberry plants, just size differences mostly.

  • Justin Douziech says:

    Try using “Blood meal”

  • jr says:

    So many replies, I didn’t read them all! If this comment suggestion was mentioned already ..consider my offering just a vote that works!
    I read a lot from various sources, so i’m not sure where this particular suggestion birthed.

    This recipe will take some weeks to be ready for use.
    Take washed dried egg shells and crush fine, the finer the better, even to a powder consistency. ( I used a Cuisinart)
    Toast in oven till they slightly charred. I used 400F oven and a baking sheet and just kept an eye on till they looked charred. I don’t offer a length of time as ovens vary in temps and the finer the eggshells are the quicker they reach the slightly over toasted state.

    Recipe: 1:1, 1 tablespoon baked eggshell powder 1 tablespoon white vinegar (distilled white vinegar)
    This end product will be a concentrate to dilute and then used to water your tomatoes or anything needing
    a great source of foodgrade lime.

    If you use a quart size jar, then it’s 4 cups of vinegar and 4 cups of toasted eggshells.
    As the vinegar dissolves the eggshell powder, less eggshell powder is seen. As the volume of liquid reduces,
    add or top off the jar with more vinegar. Continue this process till you can not see any more eggshell powder.
    The dissolving process can take weeks, so be patient. Once the conversion is complete you have a lime concentrate

    Dilute 5 tablespoons of eggshell concentrate into 1 gal plus 1 quart of water.

    From what I read this is a very absorbable quick acting ammendant food for your tomatoes or plants requiring lime.

  • gerald C says:

    I grow my own tomato plants from seed in my 4 x 8 seed bed. Using auto watering, a mixture of chicken droppings and munch. with pull down windows when cold comes in. Been doing this very long time. About 3 or 4 years ago, when to check on my seedlings and found all 2 to 3 in tall plants had been pull up and dropped. Had never seen or heard of this happening before. Then when my 6 — 70 ft rows of Peaches and Cream sweet corn was about 3 in tall, it was pulled up and dropped same way. Replanted corn, then was splitting wood close to corn and seen some red birds jumping around in corn, so walked very slowly close to corn wow those red birds had pull up and dropped all the new corn. Been planting same garden area for over 30 years and have never had this to happen. Has anyone seen this happen ???? My rabbit fence stop rabbits from eating my corn but squirrels and birds can get to corn. Will maybe plant corn one more time to see if red birds get it again before I build a bird cage for corn.

  • Irene says:

    I’ve always used eggshells & epsom salt when planting, & never had a blossom end rot problem, EXCEPT for my Opalka tomatoes…they are the long San Marzano sauce type. I’ve heard San Marzano tomatoes are very susceptible to B.E.R. I also noticed that my peppers are susceptible to what appears to be B.E.R.

  • Nanny says:

    We used eggshells and epsom salt when we planted our tomato seedlings out. They all have blossom end rot now. I read about lime in the tomatoes and eggshells even after they growing. Should I try some pickling lime and more eggshells? I have blossoms still and would like to make these BER free? What about adding vinegar such as apple cider vinegar ( the one with the mother ) to the mix? I’m at a loss as to what to do! There are so many answers here. Please give me some feedback on my pickling lime and eggshells? I really want my tomatoes!
    Thanks

  • Debra Czech says:

    For the first time last year, I used crushed egg shells for my tomatoes. I always start my tomatoes indoors, and transplant them when they are about 3 inches tall. Here in Phoenix Arizona, that is usually about mid September. As I set out my transplants, I leave them in the 3 inch peat pots they started in, and I put a couple generous handfuls of crushed egg shells in each hole before settin the peat pot tomato inside. As I said, last year was the first time I did this and it was als the first time I have not had to deal with blossom end rot! By the end of January, I was canning tomatoes! Finally!

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