Prevent Tomato Rot

Whether you grow them in attractive tubs on your patio or in a full-scale vegetable garden, you know there’s nothing better than the flavor of a home-grown tomato.

BLT’s, tomato jelly, salsa, hamburgers topped with a big tomato slice…that’s the true acknowledgement that summer is here. But each year, home gardeners, waiting eagerly for their tomatoes to ripen, are faced with annoying tomato diseases and environmental stresses. The most common is blossom end rot.

Blossom end rot shows up as a water-soaked brown or black spot on the blossom end of the fruit. These spots enlarge rapidly and may grow together forming extensive areas of damage.

Affected areas are commonly invaded by secondary fungi and bacteria that cause soft rot and fruit decay. Blossom end rot commonly occurs when the plants have grown rapidly and luxuriantly during the early part of the season and then are subject to fluctuations in moisture (too little or too much) when the fruits are at an early stage of development. These fluctuations or an excess of nitrogen fertilizer causes a lack of calcium in the developing tomato.

To control it, mulch and water plants during dry spells to maintain uniform soil moisture levels. Avoid excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers or large quantities of manure. Plant in well drained soil and do not cultivate deeper then one inch within one foot of the plant.

Blossom end rot is found wherever tomatoes are grown. The rotted areas are unsightly but the unaffected part of the fruit is edible. Blossom end rot usually disappears after the first group of tomatoes mature.

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