Why Did The Tomato Blush?… Because It Saw The Salad Dressing!!!!
With such a rainy start to our growing season many people are finding that the foliage on some plants is pale and that some of the early tomatoes are showing signs of Blossom End Rot. It is evident by a patch of dry sunken decay at the bottom of the tomato and is caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant. Tomatoes are not the only garden vegetable that can be affected by this condition, Peppers, Egg Plant, Cucumber, Squash and Melon fruits can also be affected. The damage begins when the fruit is about half its mature size and although it does not spread from fruit to fruit or from plant to plant, all affected fruit should be picked and discarded. Most of our garden vegetables require constant levels of moisture throughout the growing season and that is usually a good deep watering to a depth of about 6 inches twice a week. Fertilizers should be low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous and using mulch at this time with the increasing heat, will prevent rapid evaporation which will help maintain consistent soil moisture. Even if you are seeing the beginnings of this condition it doesn’t mean that the plant and its crop are a total loss. It is not a disease and can be remedied and the plant and future fruit will become productive.
The PH of your soil may need to be adjusted at this time and may need to be boosted from an average of 6.2 to 6.5 to 6.5 to 6.8. This will assist the plant by freeing up more calcium and is done by adding lime to the soil. Do use a soil test kit to ensure the PH of the soil first and then adding some lime to raise it. In a pail of 2.5 gallons of water add about 6 or 7 handfuls of pelleted or powdered lime and mix well. If you are growing in pots 2 to 3 cups of this mixture to each pot, if you are growing directly in the soil, use the 2 to 3 cups per square foot. This will ensure that the PH is not raised to high. You can also use a mixture of 1 cup Powdered Milk in a gallon of water and pour it around the drip line of your plants and then water in well. The calcium in the milk will help. Eggs Shells contain a lot of calcium but you will need lots and the effect takes some time. Its best to add the crushed egg shells to the planting hole when initially planting. Molasses is also high in calcium so a mixture of molasses and water can be used as well. Pelleted lime contains molasses and is easier to work with than the dusty, powdered lime you can get. Bone Meal also contains Calcium and is high in phosphorous which helps promote flowering. It also takes some time to break down in the soil so will provide relief over a steady period of time. You can sprinkle it into the soil at a rate of 1 tablespoon per square foot or 1 tablespoon per container. Be sure to work this into the top 2 inches of the soil so you won’t attract pets and or pests to dine on the bone meal. Epsom salts is good for your plants but must be used in moderation, 1 to 2 teaspoons per gallon once a month is more than adequate. It will not help with blossom end rot and should be skipped if the rot does not clear up quickly. Epsom salts contains magnesium sulphate and that will compete with uptake of calcium ions to the plant. These are a few easy remedies for this condition there is also dedicated organic fertilizers available that can be purchased at gardening centres.
I am pleased to announce that the Lumby and District Public Market will be opening on July 25th. We look forward to seeing you at the Oval here in Lumby.
Samantha Nason, BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • firstname.lastname@example.org