When you have lavished your tomato plants with water, fertilizer, and love, love, love, it’s so disheartening when all the tomatoes develop disgusting black spots on the end. What causes this — fungus, Monsanto, the pharaoh’s curse? As always, Grumpy has the answer.
This condition is called “blossom-end rot,” because it occurs on the blossom end of the tomato opposite of the stem. It is not a product of a disease, but of growing conditions. It happens when the tomato plant does not absorb enough calcium from the soil. Calcium is vital to forming healthy cell walls. Without it, you get mush.
Calcium deficiency usually results from one of two things.
1. Your soil is too acidic. In strongly acid soil, calcium in the soil becomes unavailable to the plant. Solution? Reduce acidity by sprinkling a cupful of lime around each plant and watering it in. You want your soil pH no lower than 6.5.
2. The soil is experiencing wild variations in moisture — from very wet to very dry. As a result, the tomato plant’s roots don’t absorb as much calcium as they should. Solution? Spread a couple of inches of mulch over the soil around your tomato plants. The mulch will even out the soil moisture. Plus, it will keep down weeds, cool the soil, and reduce the frequency of watering.
The First Killer Tomatoes
You aren’t the first person to experience the horror of tomatoes gone terribly wrong. In fact, this phenomenon was first chronicled in the 1978 classic film, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” Watch and learn.