Blossom End Rot – What Causes It?

I received an email the other day from one of my subscribers and he said, “I’ve read that blossom end rot is caused by calcium deficiency and/or inconsistent watering, however I also believe I read that it can also be caused by improper or insufficient pollination. Am I right or was the pollination in reference to something else to do with tomatoes?”

I answered: There are several factors which can lead to blossom end rot: insufficient available calcium in the soil, rapid early season growth followed by extended dry period, excessive rain which smothers root hairs, excessive soil salts which “lock up” calcium uptake (usually caused by a fertilizer which is too high in nitrogen or is applied too often and nitrogen builds up), and, cultivating too close to the plant which kills rootlets. There are different types of “rots”, some are caused by lack of pollination so you didn’t just imagine that. Keep blossom end rot at bay by providing uniform soil moisture, avoid high nitrogen fertilizers (and, follow application rates carefully no matter what you use), plant in well drained soil, and, when cultivating within 1′ of the plant, do not cultivate deeper than 1″.

If you have a problem now, you might want to buy a product that deals with blossom end rot. In the Midwest, we have had 10 times more rain this summer than normal, which is what caused this in my area.

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8 Steps to Successful Gardening—Step 8 Visiting

The eighth step is to visit your garden regularly. Spending a measly 10 minutes a day wandering around your lawn and garden like inspector 12 is all you need to do. I like to inspect my garden while enjoying a cup of coffee. Bonding with your plants is priceless and you might stop and pull a few weeds while you’re at it. You may also notice a plant needing water or notice a huge tomato worm devouring your favorite tomato plant. The more in touch you are with your garden, the better gardener you shall be.

Dealing with those little things each day keeps you from getting overwhelmed or frustrated because you are spending quality weekend time working in your garden. In fact, you may discover that by tending to your garden often and on a daily basis keeps it from being an obnoxious chore.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by clicking on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email” . I will keep you up to date with my blogs and occasionally will give you free items like my Free Gardening Journal that you get when you subscribe.

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

8 Steps to Successful Gardening—Step 7 Maintenance

The seventh step is to minimize the maintenance required. As a whole, steps one through six will reduce the amount of time you have to spend in the garden. Another tidbit is to cut back on fertilizers and prune when necessary.

Fertilizing and pruning can cause plants to produce new growth providing a buffet for bugs as the prefer this type of growth the most. Besides, plants shouldn’t be forced to grow faster than their normal growth rate. Pruning is not the way nature intended them to grow. No matter how many people believe that, I am not one of them.

My answer is to organically fertilize, which these types of fertilizers have small numbers for nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

And now I would like to offer you a Free copy of my Gardeners Journal so that you can easily document your gardening experience and track what you do. Click on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email” and I will send you a copy of this file.

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

8 Steps to Successful Gardening—Step 2 Composting

The second step is to start a compost pile. Whether you choose to build a compost bin out of 2×4’s or simply have a pile away from your house, make sure you put it in a sunny place and water accessible. What better way is there to be rid of all your kitchen scraps (not fatty items) then to make gold for your garden? You will actually be surprised at how easy it really is.

You can take an ice cream tub with a lid and handle to hold all your daily compost. When it is full, then take it out to your pile and dump. Spreading a thin layer over your garden or flower beds at least once a year will bring you tons of joy as well as for your plants. Mix it with your soil when planting or apply it as a top dressing to lawns and container plants. Compost can also be used as a compost tea for a fertilizer.

If you don’t want to make a compost pile, you can always buy compost in bags or in bulk. Your local city or parks department will generally sell it in bulk as do nurseries. Bags of compost may be bought from farmers’ coops or your local feed store.

And now I would like to offer you a Free copy of my Gardeners Journal so that you can easily document your gardening experience and track what you do. Click on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email” and I will send you a copy of this file.

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

Huge Savings on Fertilizers, Insecticides and Everything Else!!!

I found this great deal and yes I will be placing my order. If you don’t know it already, I love a great bargain. I know you guys love a great bargain too. So, here is the ad:

SAVE up to 67% Off every item- This Weekend Only!
If you’re like most Americans, you’ll be celebrating the coming holiday outdoors – going to see the local fireworks display, watching a parade, or cooking up some delicious treats on the barbecue. And all of these outdoor activities are sure to spark interest in your lawn and garden.

In honor of the Fourth, we’re dropping prices on every item on our website! Order now and you can take up to 67% OFF EVERY ITEM! This offer expires 7-07-2008.  Use offer keycode 145690

The place to get this great deal is at Gardens Alive! For those of you who know I am always in search of great products with great prices, you will want to buy products from Gardens Alive! this weekend! Remember, they still have the $20 for $40 offer…so now is the time to BUY!  When you check out, be sure to use the Offer Keycode: 145690

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by clicking on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email so that you don’t miss out on great information and great deals.

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!!

Are insects bugging you? Not anymore!!

Are several bugs eating your plants? It is that time of year when the pests can be real troublesome. The squash bugs are in full force and are mating everywhere and are leaving their larvae (eggs) on my squash, pumpkin and zucchini vegetable plants. These larvae are brownish-orange dots laying in short rows of 4 to 8 and can be found on top or on the underneath side of leaves. Trust me, you don’t want these eggs to hatch.

Japanese beetles (shiny, copper) are attacking my sweet potatoes while the Colorado beetle (orange/cream/black striped or puffy dark orange with black dots around its lower body) is attacking my regular potatoes. Cabbage worms are aggravating my cabbage my giving it the look of swiss cheese.

Keep in mind, even though the homemade recipes work, the insects can become immune if used constantly. You must switch every time you need to spray. If these are issues you are dealing with, I found a great product for you. This is one of the handiest sprays that you could own. For an 8oz bottle, this product makes 12 gallons…that is a lot!

This product is called “Liquid Rotenone/Pyrethrin”. This product controls aphids, asparagus beetle, bean beetle, cabbageworm, cherry fruitfly, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetle, elm leaf beetle larvae, thrips, flea beetle, garden fleahopper, webworm, harlequin bug, Japanese beetle, mites, leafhoppers, leafrollers, raspberry fruit worm, rose chafer, sod webworm, squash bug (nymph) and squash vine borer, strawberry leafroller and rootworm vegetable weevil.

For those of you who know I am always in search of great products with great prices, you will want to buy this product from Gardens Alive! Remember, they still have the $20 for $40 offer…so now is the time to buy!

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

Organic Garden Recipes—More on Fertilizers, Pesticides & Fungicides

Are you in need of some organic recipes to use in your garden? Instead of using chemicals, organic gardeners like to take a simpler approach to fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. Successful versions of each can be mixed up using ingredients that are already in your kitchen along with the kitchen blender.

You can make garlic and water insecticide that can be kept in a frozen concentrate form and used later. The garlic mixture can also be added to a seaweed fertilizer, such as kelp, for an extra boost of nutrients every few weeks. A homemade pesticide can be made from habanero peppers (or any other hot pepper) and a homemade fungicide made from baking soda. Plus, tips on the use of eggshells to prevent blossom end rot and aluminum foil to ward off cutworms.

Garlic Tea concentrate:

Ingredients:

Liquefy two bulbs of garlic

1-1/2 cups of water

Directions:

Mix to create concentrated garlic tea, a good all-purpose insecticide that makes crops undesirable to pests. Strain any solids out of the mixture and add enough water to make a gallon. Use this concentrate right away, or freeze in 1/4-cup muffin tins to use later.

Garlic tea can be brewed in combination with a seaweed fertilizer:

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp. seaweed

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 frozen garlic-tea cube

Directions:

Mix in a gallon sprayer. You can apply this application weekly in the spring and once every two to three weeks in the summer months. Habanero peppers also make a good contact insecticide when blended with water. It too can be frozen in concentrate form. It can be added to the seaweed-garlic mixture but should be applied only where an active pest problem is observed.

For curing black spot, mildew or brown patch make an effective fungicide:

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp. baking soda

1 tsp. gentle soap

1 gallon water

Directions:

Mix in a sprayer or watering canner. Use this mixture sparingly and keep it off the soil as it affects soil pH.

Tomato Tips: A few other items in your kitchen can help tomato plants. Aluminum foil can be wrapped around the lower 2 inches of the stems of the tomato plants and kept above grade at planting deters cutworms. You could also use paper towel or toilet paper rolls, and tomato sauce cans, with no top or bottom. Broken eggshells can be put in the hole with the tomato plants providing calcium to help prevent blossom end rot.

If you are in need of a good seaweed fertilizer, I have two links under my recommended link section for Gardens Alive! and Yardiac.com in the upper right corner of my home page.

And now I would like to offer you free access to my gardening journal when you subscribe to my blog, a 16 page journal that you can use season after season. Click on Subscribe to My Blog.

Happy Gardening! – The Organic Home and Gardening Gal & Master Gardener