I came to this group the first time yesterday, and immediately found
the answer to my problem: what was causing the ends of my tomatoes to
rot. Blossom end rot due to low calcium. So can I simply treat this
by sprinkling lime in the soil? If so how much? It seems to be
linked to nitrogen content, so will switching to low N fertilizer help
by itself or will I need the lime treatment as well.
thanks for the great information
Most of what I've read says that if you need to solve this problem quickly,
use a liquid calcium supplement. A real garden center should have something
like that. To minimize the likelihood of the problem NEXT season, add the
limestone as you're putting the garden to sleep for the winter.
The foremost problem is that calcium in of itself is not enough, it must
be in a form that the plant can absorb through cell walls. I've heard
good things about calcium suppliments but have never seen a study that
would support their use. Part of the problem also goes to cost, gypsum
for instance is cheap and easily taken up, calcium suppliments are not
inexpensive and may or may not work.
Bob S. wrote:
I draw a map each year of where I plant various vegetables in the garden.
Each fall I plan where everything will be planted in the garden the
following year. This allows me to work gypsum into the area where I plan on
planting tomatoes the following spring. This gives the gypsum ample time to
integrate into the soil before I plant the tomatoes the following year.
Since I've been doing this, I have not had a case of blossom end rot. It
I don't know much about much... but I've been reading a lot,
and someone correct me if I'm wrong.
For a long time I've known that certain vitamins are needed
to make other minerals and vitamins work. I'm going off on
a branch into the human body now, but bear with me...
In the human body, there's a B vitamin called PABA, which
is something like para-amino-benzoic-acid (or somesuch),
and it prevents a head of hair from turning gray. One lady I
was doing some work for, indicated that everyone in her
family had gray hair, yet she had very beautiful dark brown
hair that went down to her waste. She indicated that PABA
helps in preventing gray hair, but she said, that PABA alone
won't work, as it must be taken with other B vitamins (B6
and B12 ?). I just did a search on the Internet for these
and lo and behold, it's all over the Internet. I was told this by
a lady in or about 1994.
And now back to plants... I've been reading that in order for
Calcium to be absorbed, a plant needs magnesium as well. Epson
salt is a recognized source of magnesium... and I've been messing
with some tomato plants for the last three months but they all
seem to be going wacky on me. They started off great though
using epson salt sprayed on the plant and in the soil and using
calcium tablets. And they've been hit by cabbage worms and
couple other things. I left for a week and when I came back
all their leaves had turned brown. I chopped off the leaves
and some of their stems are turning brown, in fact I chopped
off some stems as well. Now some leaves are growing back
and they are hanging in there.
Some of my problems are that one particular tomato plant is
in full sun (90 degree F temps +) 9 hours (++) each day, so
it needs watering a couple times a day. Even when the plant
is in the shade at later parts of the day, it's getting a lot of sun
because the sun is reflecting off of white stepping stones.
It's been a month since I've given the plant calcium and epson
salt and it's growing very very slowly now.
I don't know if it has blossom end rot or not. The leaves are
coming in very green, but some of the stems are turning brown
around the very ends of the tips.
It did appear that the epson salt and calcium tablets were
working but there's some other things going on and I do plan
on keeping this tomato plant going, but I've reached a point
that has got me stumped.
I'm currently testing out some 1-2-1 fertilizer with trace amounts
of other minerals, and have stopped with the calcium and epson
Gosh. If it's on the Internet, it must be true.
(You didn't happen to notice that nearly all the links are to sites that
sell the stuff, and aren't what most people would consider valid souces
for medical, nutritional, or biological information.)
Sparying it on the foliage isn't going to do any good, and may even
cause harm... expecially if this is something you're doing regularly.
Moderation is a virtue. If you're going to go overboard doing anything,
do it to correct a certain abnormal situation that you've confirmed
exists. You wouldn't use an asthema inhailer if you had no respritory
problems just because you've heard it really helps some people, would
There are often some mutants that'll stand up to an amazing amount of
Is it in a container? Is it in soil that's far too sandy?
My plants sit in a corner of the garden that has been getting 12+ hours
of sunshine a day, and it's been 90+ most of the week. 103 yesterday,
and 100 today. Two inches down, the soil is still moist from a soaking I
gave them Tuesday morning. (And for those who like more scientific
things than finger touch, the moisture meter shows everything is fine.
Of course I have mulch that slows the drying of the soil, and I use a
soaker hose so I don't have to get the foliage wet. (Tomatoes do not
like wet foliage.)
You don't have any fruits yet? How far north are you? How late did you
Why do you think the epson salt and calcium tablets were working? Until
you get some fruit, you wouldn't see any blossom end rot. And your story
so far sounds like it wasn't working, and you nearly killed everything
While I know some people fertilize their tomatoes, I haven't done so
since the first year I tried growing tomatoes in a container on my patio
years and years ago. I didn't get a single fruit that year, but I had
some impressive foliage. Now that I have a house and a real garden, I
make sure that my vegetable garden gets a big helping of shredded leaves
each fall, and I've had a bumper crop each year without fertilizer. I
did have one plant one year that had BER, but it was because of some
irrigation problems in that corner that were fixed for the next year.
Good organically amended soil, and deep, infrequent watering has been
good to me. If something goes wrong, treat that specific problem. Don't
fiddle if you don't have to, and don't over-water.
This is way too much Epsom salts. You want to apply it once in the spring and
that is it. I give to roses but never to tomatoes.
Unless you have extremely sandy soil or are watering way too little at a time
you are watering too often. My tomatoes are in full sun in 100+ temps and I
water them only every third day. These are BIG plants.
When the temps are below 90 I water once a week. You need to apply some
organic mulch around the roots and water longer and more deeply and less often.
Could be burn from all the salts
I suggest you not worry about BER until you get fruit. It may not even have
been a problem for you. Usually BER is a result of inconsistent water rather
than lack of calcium in the soil. Plants only nedd smal amounts of calcium and
Good , but forget the fertilizer also. I have never fertilized a tomato plant
in 20 years
Blossom end rot is due to low calcium in the fruit. This can be caused
by a couple of different things, not necessarily a calcium deficiency in
Calcium may be present in the soil, but its availability depends
somewhat on the soil pH. Acidity reduces the calcium availability. High
alkalinity also reduces the calcium availability, but to a lesser
extent. Availability peaks around pH 7.5
A lack of consistent water could possibly reduce the transport of
calcium through the plant.
I've observed that blossom end rot appears frequently on tomatoes that
are rapidly growing. Apparently, the calcium is directed toward the
growing point of the plant and so the calcium in the fruit is reduced.
This situation corrects itself after a couple of weeks, so it's only the
early fruit that have the problem.
I've tried foliar calcium sprays. They didn't do anything.
for this kind of in season fixes wood ash is a lot better (acts far
faster), and a much better fertilizer too (than lime). I give each
plant a handful (maybe two heaping tbsp) at planting, and never had
BER is more a problem of uneven watering than of calcium deficiency.
Uneven watering interferes with the plants ability to obtain calcium
from the soil.
BER is rarely ever a problem for a tomato plant that has a thick
organic mulch as this supplies nutrients and more importantly keeps
soil moisture even.
A fast source of calcium for the folks who screw up in their watering
and mulching practices is calcium chloride - the same stuff for
deicing pavement, dirt road dust control, and filling tractor wheels
for weight. A spoonfull in a watering can applied as a foliar drench
works just fine every couple of weeks.
BER also poor drainage...Are they in pots? Had unusual heavy rain? Dry
during early development?
Ph about 6.5 helps...
Make a spray of 4 teaspoons 96% cal. chloride per 1 gal of water and spray,
once a week for 4 weeks.....Any longer and you may cause leaf burn...
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