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 4 Mulch

The fourth step is to mulch. Mulch stabilizes soil temperatures, maintains soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and breaks down over winter putting nutrients back into your garden.

You don’t have to go buy expensive pine straw. It is cheaper and more effective to just use regular hardwood mulch instead. I practically mulch the whole garden.

So do yourself a huge favor and mulch everything in sight with whatever mulch you like. If you have a large garden, I recommend you find the cheapest mulch around. If you have a small garden, well, it probably doesn’t matter. You could use pine straw, hay, black plastic or hardwood mulch.

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 3 Soil

The third step is to maintain healthy soil in your garden. The use of compost helps with maintaining healthy soil, but there are other things to consider:

Try to avoid walking on the soil in established gardens, because every step compacts the soil, and compaction makes it difficult for roots to grow. Create paths between rows or in beds, or place a board on the soil adjacent to areas where you work to distribute your weight more evenly over the soil.

Avoid working the soil when it’s wet. Otherwise, once it dries, you’ll wind up with big clumps of hard-packed soil. And finally, don’t overwork the soil, especially with a rototiller. Good soil isn’t powdery; it’s a mixed bag of particles of varying sizes and shapes.

Personally, I don’t use a rototiller because, in my opinion, the tines disturb the soil way too much. And I rarely turn the soil with a shovel. What I occasionally do is loosen the soil with a broadfork, which aerates the soil without disturbing its complex structure.

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!!