HERE’S THE DIRT: Getting to the Bottom of Blossom End Rot

It is always disappointing to see a tomato, squash, pepper, watermelon or an eggplant get blossom end rot (BER). It is not the end of the plant, though, just the fruit. We typically think a lack of calcium in the soil is the main reason our plants get blossom end rot and the truth is that most soil has adequate calcium especially if it is the soil that you have been growing plants in previously.

To sum up blossom end rot, it is a disorder of growing fruit that causes the fruit’s cells at the blossom end of the fruit to die. So what does this really mean? If a plant has inconsistent watering that is too wet or dry this will affect how the plant will receive calcium and that imbalance can result in blossom end rot. Other causes of why a plant may experience BER are over fertilizing with nitrogen which can promote leaf growth and deplete part of the plant in receiving calcium as the water will carry the calcium towards the new leaf growth and damage to small feeder roots can also affect how the plant takes in water affecting the calcium and contributing to BER.

Some ways to resolve BER once it happens in your garden is to remove the affected fruit and monitor your watering schedule and if the problem persists you should have your soil tested and/or you may consider planting a different variety of that plant in the future. Many times we hear of garden myths like adding tums or Epsom salts as a sure fire way to resolve the issue but they are just that, myths and people probably do see some results because they are watering and paying more attention to the care of that plant. So the big take away here is that water is a key factor in resolving blossom end rot.

Submitted by Donna Canino

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