A common problem for gardeners, we know how disappointing it is to find a tomato fruit with brown, sunken spots on the bottom. Blossom end rot can also affect peppers, cucumbers, melons, eggplants, and squash.
A lack of calcium in the plant causes blossom-end rot . Various factors can contribute to this calcium deficiency. These include uneven watering, improper soil pH, and root damage. However, much can be done to prevent the problem.
Here’s how to stop blossom end rot naturally:
1. Remove Affected Fruits
This disorder usually happens when the fruits are about halfway mature in a dry period following a wet start to the season. The saturated plants will start to dry out, and the bottom of the fruits will begin to rot.
The first action to take in treating blossom end rot (BER) is to remove the affected fruits. Pruning the plants will also help redirect water and calcium to developing fruits.
2. Water Enough
Successfully combating tomato fruit rot is about balance. Too wet or too dry conditions can both cause more problems.
So, with water, it should be the right amount to keep the soil evenly moist. Do a couple of good soakings twice a week in hot, dry conditions. You can also dig trenches around outdoor plants for drainage during heavy rainfall.
Also, a period of hot weather may mean the soil is too hot and dry. Plants can also suffer heat stress if grown in a greenhouse without proper shade or temperature control.
Greenhouse plants can benefit from self-watering containers or timed water-dispensing devices. Avoid watering leaves and fruits directly as well.
3. Use Mulch to Retain Soil Moisture
Prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and other vegetables by keeping the soil moist at all times. You can do this by applying a good mulch around the base of the plants.
Organic mulches like straw, hay, newspaper, or grass clippings will help keep the soil warm. These will also maintain moderate moisture levels and help keep weeds at bay.
4. Check the Soil pH Regularly
Most plants thrive in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, with tomatoes benefiting from a soil pH of 6.2 to 6.8 . However, it is best to test the soil before planting.
You can easily acquire a pH soil tester from the internet or your local garden store. Alternatively, take samples of soil to be tested by your local extension office.
Thereafter, make checks regularly to know the soil’s acidity. Correct if necessary with Ag lime or other suitable amendments.
5. Avoid Using Nitrogen-Heavy Fertilizers
Although nitrogen is essential to plant growth, too much will prevent plants from uptaking calcium and other nutrients.
To fix the problem, avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers on fruiting crops, as this can cause an imbalance of calcium and other soil nutrients. Instead, treat plants with a fertilizer high in superphosphate but low in nitrogen.
6. Add Calcium to the Soil
Adding calcium in some form to the soil can help prevent blossom end rot. The best time to do this is before planting the crops.
Moreover, plants with insufficient calcium uptake can produce other unhealthy signs aside from blossom end rot. These include wilting, blackened leaf tips, paling of young leaves, and stunted growth.
Various commercial products are available to incorporate more calcium into the soil. However, crushed eggshells are a natural home remedy you can try. Other than this, ag lime and gypsum are traditionally added to soil to increase calcium levels.
7. Bone Meal
Another calcium solution for blossom end rot is bone meal. Add some to the soil in the required amount before planting young plants.
Following the package instructions, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons for every gallon of soil for new plantings.
8. Bonide Rot-Stop
This is an organic blossom end rot spray for tomatoes and other crops like cucumbers, peppers, and melons.
Bonide Rot-Stop provides additional calcium in a ready-to-use foliar spray. However, it is best to apply after rainy periods when calcium leaches away.
Additionally, use this treatment in the evening or early morning to avoid leaf burn.
One homemade treatment for blossom end rot is milk. Fresh or powdered milk both contain calcium that you can use to feed your plants.
Unfortunately, milk won’t help the fruits that are already showing signs of blossom end rot. However, the next crop will benefit from the extra calcium.
To use powdered milk for blossom end rot, fork it gently around the base of plants and water it in. The recommended amount is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of powdered milk per plant.
You can also make a spray using fresh milk by diluting it in water at a ratio of 1:2. Use the solution to spray plant leaves.
Water plants frequently after using milk treatment, despite the application method you choose.
Will Epsom Salt Help?
Epsom salt is often used by gardeners to give tomatoes a boost and start off seedlings. It is also helpful in reducing transplant shock and preventing the yellowing of leaves, among other benefits.
But should you use Epsom salt as a tomato blossom end rot home remedy? The answer is no. Experts state that Epsom salt will NOT cure or prevent blossom end rot but instead promote it by adding magnesium to the soil.
The more magnesium the soil contains, the less calcium will be absorbed by the plants . This, therefore, increases the chances of BER showing up.
Applying these natural methods to plants vulnerable to this plant disorder should produce a healthy crop. However, you can still eat tomatoes with blossom end rot. Just cut off the bottom if it is turning brown or black.