Tomatoes - Blossom end rot

Asked August 28, 2015, 9:51 PM EDT

Since I have lived here(20+ yrs), blossom end rot has been a problem. This past year I have done the most to my garden soil ever. I have a garden that is 11'x35'. In fall I gathered up maple leaves from 3 mature maple trees(not Big Leaf Maple) and put them in the garden and tilled them in. From Jan. to end of May(aprox), I put down 60#s of lime. I also put about three 30-40# bags of organic compost in my garden space. When I planted my 4 San Marzano tomatoes, I placed in the hole about 3 Tbs 10-10-10 organic fertilizer + about 2Tbs of Epsom salt and 1cup Diatomaceous earth. Due to the rot, I have removed about 150 San Marzano tomatoes over the growing season and more to come.I used powdered milk as suggested by a co-worker(no significant results). I have uploaded some pics of my plants. I have also done some large container gardening with mixed results as well. The watering has been regular especially with this hot summer; soaked about every 2 days. I have 3 tomato plants in three large containers. I have mostly new compost material in them and treated then similarly as my garden in preparing them for my tomatoes. They are 3 different plants. The only tomato plant doing well is my Indigo Rose. The Cherokee Purple has done well growing but the stems where the fruit come on will not mature. They dry up and fall off. Only one tomato has been harvested. I have about 2-3 more tomatoes on that plant. My last container has a Brandywine. It has about 3 times the amount of fruit as the Cherokee Purple. Please help.

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

I’m sorry to hear about your continuing problems with blossom end rot (BER) in your tomatoes. Unfortunately your preference for growing San Marzano tomatoes, one of the more susceptible tomatoes, has set you up for problems. Even though calcium is involved in BER, home remedies such as adding dry milk or egg shells to the planting hole, won’t help prevent BER. Even so, you can be successful with San Marzano tomatoes.

It’s critical to maintain a continuously available source of moisture for tomato roots so that the calcium can be absorbed and then transported to the end of the fruit. That’s as true for containers filled with potting mix as it is in the garden. Tomatoes in containers will pose a greater challenge than the same kind in the garden because the limited root room dries quite rapidly. (That’s been especially so during the recent prolonged spell of high summer temperatures; sometimes containers needed water once or even twice daily.)

“Managing Blossom End Rot in Tomatoes and Peppers,” explains all the potential factors which may result in BER and describes how to successfully grow BER-free tomatoes.