A common problem for gardeners, we know how disappointing it is to find some tomatoes affected by blossom end rot. This condition can also affect peppers, cucumbers, melons, eggplants, and squash.
The main cause is calcium deficiency . Various other factors also contribute to blossom-end rot. These include uneven watering and improper soil pH. However, much can be done to control and prevent the problem.
Here’s how to stop blossom end rot naturally. These are home remedies and organic solutions you can apply to your home backyard garden.
1. Remove Infected Fruits
Blossom end rot usually happens when the fruits are about halfway matured in a dry period following a wet start to the season. The saturated plants will start to dry out and the blossom end of the fruits begin to rot.
Tomato fruit rot (or other crop fruit rot) may appear to be a fungal disease but it is not. Therefore, the first action to take in treating blossom end rot is to remove the infected fruits.
Pruning back the plants will also help redirect water and calcium to developing fruits.
2. Water Enough
A spell of hot weather may mean the soil is too hot and dry. Also, plants can get baked if grown in a greenhouse without shade or temperature control.
Successfully combating tomato end rot and others is about balance. Therefore, with water, it should be the right amount to keep the soil evenly moist.
Too wet or too dry conditions can both spell more problems. 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.
Additionally, greenhouse plants can benefit from self-watering containers or timed water-dispensing devices. Avoid watering leaves and fruits directly as well.
3. Use Mulches to Retain Soil Moisture
Prevent bottom 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 cardboard will help keep the soil warm. These will also maintain moderate moisture levels and keep weeds at bay.
4. Check Soil pH Regularly
Most plants thrive on a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, with tomatoes benefiting from 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 garden stores. Alternatively, take samples of soil to be tested by local authority resources.
Thereafter, make checks regularly to maintain acidity balance. Correct if necessary with Ag lime or other suitable products.
5. Stop Using Nitrogen-Rich Fertilizers
Although nitrogen is essential to plant growth, too much will prevent plants from uptaking calcium and other nutrients.
Crops need to be planted in warm soil to absorb enough nitrogen to grow. However, for strong healthy rot-resistant plants, avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers. Instead, treat plants with a balanced organic fertilizer.
6. Add Calcium to the Soil
As blossom end rot shows up because of insufficient calcium, adding calcium in some form to the soil can help prevent or eradicate the problem. The best time to do this is before planting the crops to avoid rot developing.
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 in the soil. However, utilizing crushed eggshells is a home remedy you can try. Other than this, lime or gypsum are traditionally added to soil to increase calcium levels.
7. Bone Meal
Strong healthy plants will resist pests, disease, and rot, so nurturing good root systems is important.
Bone meal contains calcium. Therefore, add some bone meal to the soil before planting or fork in the required amount around young plants.
Following the package instructions, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons for every gallon of soil for new plantings. This measurement applies to vegetable gardens & flower beds.
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 an easy ready-to-use foliar spray. It is best to apply after rainy periods when calcium leaches away.
Additionally, use this blossom end rot tomato treatment in the evening or early morning to avoid leaf burn.
9. Powdered Milk
One homemade blossom end rot treatment is milk solution. Fresh or powdered milk both contain significant amounts of calcium to feed to your plants.
Unfortunately, milk won’t help the fruits that are already showing signs of rot. However, the next crop will benefit from the extra calcium.
Easily fork powdered milk gently around the base of plants (not on the leaves) and water it in. The recommended amount is about a half-cup per plant.
You can also make a spray using fresh milk by diluting it with water with a ratio of 1:1. However, 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, preventing yellowing of leaves, among other benefits.
However, Epsom salt is NOT a cure for blossom end rot but promotes 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 blossom end rot 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 black or brown.