Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stop Blossom-End Rot Now, It's Easier Now Than Later

Too many tomatoes and bell peppers grown in home gardens are lost each year to a condition called blossom-end rot. Blossom -end rot is a disorder found on fruit near the blossom end and first appears as a darkened, sunken, leathery scar. This condition usually causes the fruit to ripen prematurely and makes it worthless.

Blossom-end rot can be caused by several factors and the severity of this condition can be compounded when two or more of these factors interact with each other. It is known that inadequate calcium levels in the fruit can cause this condition and a low soil calcium level in combination with inadequate soil can compound the situation. Severely pruned tomato plants are more prone to develop blossom-end rot than unpruned plants.

In order to control blossom-end rot, the home gardener will need to take several steps and one needs t0 start early, even before the crop is planed if his condition is to be prevented.

Steps to control blossom-end rot:

1. Test the soil early in the spring and apply dolomitic lime if needed. This should be done several weeks before planting.

2. In gardens where this condition has been severe in past seasons, also broadcast five lbs. of dolomitic lime per 100 square feet just before planting and plow the ground six(6) to eight(8) inches deep.

3. Mulch plants with black or organic mulch.

4. Apply irrigation water to keep soil uniformly moist throughout the season.

5. Apply a calcium spray, first applied when fruits are first visible can help prevent this disorder. Mix four tablespoons of calcium chloride per gallon of water. Spray plants until solution begins to run off the leaves. Three applications are recommended at seven(7) day intervals. Calcium can be obtained at your local garden center or supply store.

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