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Blossom End Rot Prevention

Planting, caring, pruning, and watering, growing your own vegetables takes time and effort but it is so worth it to harvest fresh and local produce. That is unless your beautiful vegetables fall prey to destruction like Blossom End Rot. The rot eats the fruit from the bottom up greatly reducing their quality and their palatability. What may be even more concerning than watching your beautiful tomato or pepper rot is knowing that blossom end rot affects the whole plant. It is not a disease or caused by a pest, Blossom End Rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. If one fruit shows signs it is not uncommon for multiple more fruits on the same plant or in the same bed to also develop rot.

The Cause

Blossom End Rot is found in tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, and peppers and is caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil. Plants need calcium just like people, they need it for cell structure and to fight pathogens with out calcium the cells can break down and rot. There are two main causes of the actual rot and that is inconsistent watering and a lack of available calcium in the soil. By managing these two things you can prevent the rot from appearing. 

The Signs

As the name suggests it first appears at the end of of the bloom. The end of the blossom will look soggy and start to brown as the cells start to break down. This rot will grow on the flower until it reaches the end of the fruit. Then it will start to weaken the fruit as well until you end up with a fruit rotten from the bottom up.


So what can you do? At the start of the season you can amend the soil to increase the calcium content. This year I used ashes I saved from my wood fireplace, wood ash is full of potassium and calcium and completely free to save and use! It also contains some phosphorus and magnesium and very little nitrogen which is a great combination to prevent blossom end rot. You can also use other fertilizers but remember you want a fertilizer high in potassium, calcium, phosphate and low in nitrogen. If you forget to amend the soil at the start of the season you can do it anytime after while the plants grow, try not to disturb the soil too much though. Sprinkle the amending fertilizer or wood ash over the soil in the affected bed and then water it in or use a hand trowel to lightly work it into the first few inches of the soil.

As your plants begin to grow make sure you water consistently. When you hear the word rot you might think that too much water is the problem but in fact its the opposite, calcium can only move through the plant when there is plenty of water to transport it. Consistent watering is key so that the soil does not get too dry. If your soil is rich in calcium and consistently moist you are unlikely to have any blossom end rot. 


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