Vegetable Garden Tips – The Best Ways to Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot

Vegetable garden tips on how to grow the perfect tomatoes are a dime a dozen. The good ones usually highlight how to choose the best soil and fertiliser that is needed to grow tomatoes successfully in your yard in addition to the proper water intake.

And that’s fine. However, there’s one crucial tip you shouldn’t ignore and that is how to stop the dreaded blossom end rot from infecting your tomato plants. If you fail to do that, you’ll most likely harvest a pile of rotten fruit at the end of the growing season rather than the juicy, delicious red tomatoes that you were expecting to feast upon.
The good news is that there are a few simple, easy to follow steps for you to take which will help you avoid blossom end rot.

Blossom end rot is fairly easy to recognise. It first appears as a dark brown area on the blossom end of the tomato fruit, which explains the name. As the fruit grows bigger, the spot will sink and become darker, eventually turning black and leathery. Other diseases and secondary conditions often take root in the same spot as well, thus magnifying the problems.

The cause of tomato blossom end rot is due to a physiological disorder resulting from a deficiency of calcium in the fruit. This might be due to low levels of calcium in the soil, or it could be due to excessive quantities of nitrogen or potassium in the soil as these properties can prevent the plants from absorbing an adequate supply of calcium. In addition, watering too much (high moisture) or too little (water stress) can also reduce the uptake of calcium to the plants and result in blossom end rot.

Now that you know what causes it, it is easier to understand what steps you need to take to stop blossom end rot from ruining your tomatoes. First, before you plant, you should test the pH of your soil. You want the pH level to be around 6.5, and if it is too acidic, you can add agricultural lime to the soil to make up for the calcium deficiency. Ideally, add the lime at least two months before planting, just to make sure that the lime has enough time to become incorporated into the soil. This in turn will ensure that the soil has enough calcium for the plants to feed on when they need it.

It’s important to remember that directly spraying the fruit with calcium after it has contracted blossom end rot is practically useless because the fruit does not have any entry points in its skin to absorb the calcium. However, it may help if you spray the leaves (as opposed to the fruit) before there are any symptoms of the condition.

Next, improper fertilisation, especially an excess of nitrogen, can also result in blossom end rot because nitrogen encourages more leaves to grow and less fruit. This tends to reduce the distribution of calcium to the fruit. However, an easy but effective method to ensure that you fertilise correctly is to use organic fertilisers that are especially made for tomatoes since these will already have the right combination of nutrients.

Thirdly, try to be consistent when watering your tomato plants. This means water regularly rather than drench the plants and then leave them without water for days or even weeks. They should get about one inch of water each week during the growing and fruiting phase depending on the type of soil and weather conditions where you live. The soil should be kept damp but not soaked. The idea is to prevent the moisture level in your soil from going up and down, causing moisture stress which can increase the likelihood of developing blossom end rot.

Finally, you should plant your tomatoes in soil that drains well. This encourages the plants to produce roots that are strong enough to take in enough calcium so as to reduce the chances of blossom end rot from forming on the fruit.

I hope you find these vegetable garden tips worthwhile because they make a lot of sense. If you follow them correctly, you should be able to stop blossom end rot from spoiling your tomatoes. The result? A bountiful harvest of delicious tomatoes for you to eat and share.

Final Tip

Use mulches to keep the moisture level in your soil constant. Choose something like straw or ground leaves. If you avoid severe fluctuations in the moisture level of the soil, you will reduce the chances of moisture stress occurring which, you’ll remember, can cause blossom end rot.

Producing Tomato Seeds

Every tomato seed is enclosed in a small jelly-like envelope containing chemical substances which keep the seed dormant. This envelope prevents the seed from germinating in the warm, liquid interior of the fruit. A mature tomato retains a surprising amount of heat during the hottest Summer days. If left to nature, the fruits fall from the plant, rot, and the fermentation process destroys the jelly-like envelope.

This fermentation process must be reproduced artificially if you want to produce your own tomato seeds. This is very easy to do. Simply cut the fruit in two, remove the seeds and the juice, and place them in a jar. Water can be added, as in certain conditions it can help the fermentation process. This liquid is left for a few days until a white musty skin appears on the surface. The main agent of fermentation is called Oospora lactis, which helps destroy bacterial diseases.

The time needed for fermentation varies according to the surrounding temperature. Be careful during the hot Summer days, as fermentation can take place in less than 48 hours. In this case, if you wait too long you may lose the seeds. Freed of their jelly-like protection, they will happily start to germinate in very favorable hot and liquid conditions.

Therefore, when the fermentation process is complete, the seeds are cleaned by putting them in a fine strainer and running water over them, stirring vigorously while doing so. Waste and decomposed immature seeds will disappear through the strainer, leaving behind only the good seeds. They are then laid out to dry on a fine mesh (for example, a supple plastic mosquito net). Dry, ventilated conditions are necessary.

It is strongly recommended NOT to dry them on paper (they will stick to it, making it impossible to remove them), nor in the oven (even at low heat), nor in full sunlight. The key element of drying is not heat, but ventilation. This rule holds for all types of seeds.

During a hot humid period, it is strongly recommended to use a ventilator. You should also separate the little piles of seeds delicately by hand during the drying process. The dried seeds should then be placed preferably in glass jars or in small paper sachets, protected from humidity.

Tomato seeds have an average germinating lifetime of 4 years. This said, they can last up to 10 years or more.