BER question

I'm growing 6 tomatoes in containers of different varieties. Yesterday I noticed that on one plant, one of the set tomatoes has blossom end rot. After all the work I put into these tomatoes to get them planted I was pretty depressed about this. Between this and the severe drought we're having in Chicago that requires me to water everything every day it almost makes me want to just give up gardening. Anyway, would it be prudent if I just pick the fruit that has blossom end rot so the plant doesn't waste any more energy growing that one?
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Sounds like a plan. Additional calcium will help but BER is really a problem with uneven water supplies. Wood ashes supply calcium and potash in a pretty usable form ad a couple tablespoons per large pot.
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On 2 Jul 2005 12:32:27 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@localnet.com wrote:

I was advised to apply Epsom salts. Did so. Killed the plants.
--
Aspasia

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You may have used too much epsom salt. It should be something like a teaspoon to a tablespoon per gallon. Also I think that will combat soil ph problems that can cause BER. But most BER is probably water/stress related, not because soil acidity is bad or an extremem lack of calcium.
I made a newbie mistake with baking soda to fight mildew 2 years ago. I actually shook it out on the plant cause the person didn't say to use 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. The plant fried within hours. DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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All things are poison and nothing is without poison. ... It is the dose that makes a thing a poison," declared the wandering Renaissance physician-surgeon Paracelsus
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Exactly. And the same is stated on the main page for the Extension Toxicology Network (ExToxNet) http://extoxnet.orst.edu/ghindex.html , which I believe to be a reliable source for pesticide info.
Suzy O
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Well it wouldn't hurt the plant. Fruits are meant for picking. Even green ones. If I remember right there is nothing wrong with the tomato. Problem is the sunken area often develops other disease or bugs.
BER can be stress related... too much fruit, infrequent watering, too dry to too wet, plus lack of available calcium. The water stress can cause existing calcium to not be taken up--hence causing a calcium deficiency that has nothing to do with lack of calcium in soil. Supposedly it can happen with first fruits then disappear--which may be your case.
From my past reading, basically the water is transpiring through the leaves so fast that water soluble calcium exits/collects in the leaves and poor concentrations get delivered to the fruit. This can happen because of excessive heat and excessive moisture. If heat could be a conditions, you could hang something directly over the plant to avoid high noon sun. I think someone here recommended in past years laying a square of trellis on top of the tomato cage to provide some filtering of the hottest sun. Any shade should help. Another advantage to cage vs. stake.
Sounds like yours is water stress. Containers are tough, I've never used less than 12" sq for tomatoes, and my in-ground just explode in size over container ones. try positioning the container so the container isn't hit by the sun-even if you just sheild it with wood. this will keep the root zone cooler. Pots simply shed moisture faster. Clay is the worst in my mind for hot days. Normally roots 6 inches deep would be cool, but in a pot they are warm cause the sides of the container are heating up. use mulch for the top of the dirt. It really does keep moisture. The mulch absorbs the day's heat and the dirt is allowed to retain it's moisture at a more normal rate.
A BER foliar spray (or my reommendation would be liquid seaweed) may help in short term. foliar spray try to introduce nutrients into the plant through absorbtion in the leaves/fruit. A quicker fix then getting them into the ground and letting the plant unlock and soak them up.
I've never bothered to test my soil but as insurance for BER I add crushed egg shells into dirt around the hole I plant tomatoes. I don't know if they release their calcium during the growing season , but if not I figure they will help to replenish what is being taken for future years. I microwave the shells then toss them in a metal can. Shake it to break them up. Easy enough to recycle, no smell that way. I did that with peppers and eggplants too this year. Same family, but I don't know if they have any greater calcium need. I did not have luck with eggplant last year--2 of three are doing well this year.
For water stress--since I am forgetful and overwhelmed at times-- I added peat/sphagnum moss, perlite/vermicullite and TerraSorb/Soil Moist deep into my vegetable beds. Even to 20 " down. All of these improve water retention. I think water management is really important aspect of soil preparation. The only plants that have every shown water stress is my pots. Smaller the pot, the more often I see them stressed. I also used hydramats(superabsorbent sheets) at the bottom of pots. Those worked. POts without them wilted reliably. It soaks up and retains a lot of moisture that would often drip out of the container.
Watering is tricky. Hard to know if water is stagnant in the ground or draining freely. If you've got good drainage in the ground you can soak the plant and leave be for several days, even in heat. The top inch will dry up till it is that blow-away gray dust but below that it will retain moisture. That's why it is important to root plants deep. Shallow roots dry quicker. I plant tomato transplant into the ground so there first set of leaves are underground.
DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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BER has all sorts of possible triggers, including disturbing the roots, uneven watering, mineral nutrition problems (esp. excess N), etc. There also seems to be a genetic component to BER. The best treatment I've found for container plantings is drip watering and a good mulch. For plants in-ground, most years a good mulch is all that seems to be required.
See: (mind the wraps!) http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandg arden/AAMG/vegetables/ber-tomatoes.html
http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/TRA/PL ANTS/index.html#http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/TRA/PLANTS/blendrot.html
http://www.entoplp.okstate.edu/ddd/diseases/ber.htm
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I suspect it's a factor of the droughty conditions in that BER is a problem with calcium uptake caused by fluctuations in water available. The maters are okay to eat, tho, just cut off the yucky part.
As far as watering every day, it's better to drench the soil super deep once or twice a week, depending on the temps.
Good luck!
Suzy O, Zone 5, Wisconsin, where we finally got some rain this week!!!!!

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Suzy O wrote:

Maybe. Maybe not.
If they're in containers, the soil should never dry out. A crust on the top is fine, but if you don't hit some moisture by the time your first knuckle is below the crust, it hasn't been watered enough. Put a small enough plastic pot in the sun all day, and you may need to water that tomato plant twice a day.
If they're in the ground, the surface can dry-out, but you'd better find something moist by the time your finger is up to the second knuckle. Planting the start deeper will help. Tomatoes are one of the few things that you can burry the crown. Take a typical 4" start that's about 9" tall at planting time, and you trim off the lower leaves, and stick 3 or 4 inches in the ground. If you don't, the roots will be too close to the surface, and you'll have to keep moisture available higher than if you plant it deeper.
If the roots are deep enough, and there is some nice mulch, and enough foliage to shade the ground, one deep watering a week may be enough, especially in soil that's more clay than sand.
Maybe the plants will wait for that one deep watering a week, but if spacing the watering that far apart means they do have to wait when they want to drink, that's a better set-up for BER than never letting the surface crust at all. The calcium needs to ride in on the water, so no water available is as bad or worse than washing away the calcium with too much water.
Also, never water tomato plants from above. Splashing is bad. Wet foliage is bad. Have drip irrigation or soaker hose (the round stuff ones that water soaks through, not the flat ones that spray) is the way to go. I have a spiral of soaker hose under the red sheets of tomato mulch. I generally run the soaker hose for a little while every two days, checking moisture levels about 3" down to decide how long.
--
Warren H.

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On hot days, that would not cut it. Smaller the pot, bigger the plant, hotter the weather you have to increase watering. 5" pots or less can need watering twice a day at least on the hot sunny spots.
The good rule of thumb is check to first kncukle. If you don't hit moisture water, and water deeply(assuming you have good drainage-otherwise you risk swamping). If you don't water deeply you may develop a shallow root syttem which gets weak and requires more frequent watering.
The only problem with that rule is pots ALSO dry out from the sides in. Especially the side facing sun. Roots tend to collect on the outer sides of the pot, so the warmth and dryness at the root zone makes some plants unhappy campers.

DiGiTAL ViNYL (no email) Zone 6b/7, Westchester Co, NY, <1 mile off L.I.Sound 3rd year gardener http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/royalfrazier/album?.dir=/2055&.src=ph
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