How to Treat Blossom End Rot

Before I tell you how to treat blossom end rot, I want to catch you guys up on my gardening journey.

So you know how I told you guys that I’d come along side you on this journey towards homesteading. A dream that feels far off in never land. Honestly, I sometimes sit around wasting time making backup plans. I think “hey, I could still live a sustainable/self sufficient lifestyle without the land”. When I could just use that time to be learning more about food preservation or how to master the art of purging glitter from every corner of the house 🙂 Okay, forget my cynical pessimism. But I do really want to be share how the journey has been going for me in the realm of gardening.

This past spring I tried starting tomato seeds the way that I always do. These seeds I bought about two years ago and weren’t stored properly during the previous year. Some famous gardening youtubers taught me the best practices of seed starting and I followed them to a tee. Yea, they never grew past an inch and a half. The seedlings were so stunted I couldn’t believe it! I would walk into my front sun room week after week to find ten itty bitty sprouts that refused to grow even a centimeter higher. I watered them, I used a heat mat I gave them plenty of sun. Nothing. I had to let it go.

So I waved my white flag and headed to my local Mennonite green house. There, to my delight, I found 10 four inch tall paste tomato variety’s (just the ones I wanted). This lifted my gardening spirits and sent me on my way with some sort of utopian expectation that the rest of the season would go perfectly to plan. “Okay Emma, we know where this is going”. It certainly did rot! “Cough, cough. I mean, did NOT”.

Two weeks ago I went outside to check on my plants and do a routine watering to come to find horrific brown craters on the underside of the teardrop shaped fruit. In my fury, I ripped all of the rotted fruits off and threw them beneath the vine. The worst part is, there is only one variety of tomato that is specifically struggling with this issue. I have four other plants that are producing hefty amounts and don’t have a single spec on them. Its only on this specific variety. The vary variety that I bought in excess and was planning on using to can an array of sauces, salsas, and pastes. Now that seems out of the question because I keep finding more tomatoes to toss everyday.

Now this post might seem hypocritical because I haven’t quite yet completely figured out the solution to amend this issue with my specific tomato variety. But I’m determined to put an end to the brown wrinkly affliction these fussy little tomato tots are faced with!!!

Green tomatoes with blossom end rot.

What this has taught me is my need to be consistent in my care for not only my tomatoes, but my care in all that I do, and my need to be vulnerable with you. If we truly are learning together, then vulnerability from me can’t be something I sprinkle into the corners of this blog far out of sight. I want to show you that learning the ways of homesteading comes with countless failures. And that’s okay! Actually, its a good thing! It is so beneficial for both you and me to be humbled by the process and truly learn from our mistakes. Maybe my mistake this year was not watering enough, or maybe it was purchasing this variety in the first place.. Who knows? Whatever the mistake may be, in the light of vulnerability, we can learn and grow together.

I’ll update you on my progress as it comes down below with new dates and on how my solutions are working.

Young tomato plant growing in dark rich soil next to garden steak.

What is Blossom End Rot?

Blossom end rot is a brown bruise located on the under side of the tomato. It typically begins where the blossom has fallen off. Sometimes the spot can look grey, light brown, brown, dark brown or even black. It can also grow fuzzy mold on the blemish as well.

What Causes Blossom End Rot?

Blossom end rot is caused by a nutrient deficiency within the plant. The specific nutrient that causes blossom end rot is a lack of Calcium. Blossom end rot can happen to a number of vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and peppers.

How Does Blossom End Rot Affect the Tomato Fruit?

When blossom end rot occurs the part of the tomato that is discolored should be cut off and put in the compost pile. The rot can in some cases change the quality of the entire fruit. This happens when the rot begins and then becomes susceptible to bacteria and fungus which can make the entire fruit go bad.

Can you Get Rid of it?

Yes and no. You can’t rid a tomato fruit from having blossom end rot because the rot is irreversible. But you can rescue your tomato plant from further blossom end rot issues.

How to Treat Blossom End Rot

  • First, remove any developing fruit from the plant as soon as you spot it. Doing this will make sure your plant isn’t pouring energy into growing the rotted fruit. If you don’t remove it you are deterring the plant from producing more healthy fruit.
  • Start watering the plants consistently. This helps the plant to properly absorb the calcium.
  • If you water consistently and are on top of everything, then you might have a lack of calcium in the actual soil itself. Use 2 Tums tablets crushed and put them in a gallon of water in a watering can and water the plants with it to increase the calcium amount in the soil. Or use a fertilizer that is high in calcium
Hand holding up tomato with blossom end rot.

How to Prevent Blossom End Rot

  • First, choose a tomato variety that is less likely to develop blossom end rot! There are some that are more prone to blossom end rot than others. Instead but variety’s that are blossom end rot resistant.
  • Water consistently, especially when its dry. Never let your tomatoes to “dry out” in a sense. If keeping up in watering is hard for you, it might be best to try an irrigation system.
  • Know the pH of your soil. A pH imbalance in the soil can also cause blossom end rot. It’s best to have a pH of 6.2-6.8 for tomatoes.
  • Mulch the ground to help retain water as the tomato plants are growing. This encourages the plant to continue to get the adequate amount of water it needs to produce healthy fruit.
  • Don’t over fertilize because that can cause blossom end rot as well (excess of nitrogen in soil).
  • Apply compost every so often to give the tomato plants a boost of nutrients.
  • Avoid damaging tomato plant roots because it can also cause blossom end rot. If the roots are damaged, it prevents the plant from being able to absorb calcium and is irreversible.

Well I hope this helped you learn more about blossom end rot and how to treat it! I hope you all have a blessed day!

Update 07/30/2023

So, unfortunately there hasn’t been much change in the blossom end rot issue. This has been so discouraging… I really wanted to can my tomatoes so I could have tons of tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and tomato puree for the winter. Sometimes things don’t work out, that’s just life. At least we can learn from our mistakes. Yes, that’s right, I think I may have found the issue with my plants.

I did some research on the specific variety I purchased, being San Marzano tomatoes. These are well known for their amazing flavor and being great for canning whole. I also found that these guys really aren’t more prone to blossom end rot than lets say, most other varieties… So I was completely wrong about that. The other thing I didn’t think about was there being something wrong with the soil I get in spring.

This past spring I did what I always do. I go and pick up dirt from a free dirt dump close by. I know its a little sketchy since you really don’t know where exactly the dirt is coming from, but I’ve never had a problem before! So I just went through with it because my family had no other option because where so dirt poor at the moment. Little did I know there was something definitely wrong with the dirt.

My friend also goes to this dirt dump site, and I was recently at her house the other day. She took me out back to show me her new chicken coop and her garden, and then she asked if I was having blossom end rot on my tomatoes? I was like “oh my goodness, YES”! We both looked at each other and knew, its the dirt. She also had some issues with her cucumbers growing all wacky. So I went home and checked mine. Also growing wacky!

Well there you have it folks. Don’t get free dirt because who knows whats in that stuff! Then you won’t have tomatoes that rot before you even pick them. 🙂

Que la paix soit avec toi!

Emma ♡

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