The Q&A Archives: Blossom End Rot

Question: Last year I asked your advice on soil for a raised veg. garden. I followed directions by using 1/2 soil and 1/2 mushroom soil (because we have that locally). I planted my veggies and the plants were huge but, I didn't get many peppers on my plants. Tomatoes gave a lot of fruit but would get the black spots and fall off before ripening (I believe this is blossom rot). I researched this and found out this happens if you have too much nitrogen so, I was wondering if you could give me advice for this year.

Answer: Blossom end rot can be triggered by a number of contributing factors, including excessive nitrogen and irregular watering, but the primary factor is lack of calcium or other imbalance in the soil. Blossom end rot is especially likely to occur when there is a dry period following a stretch when the plants have grown fast with plenty of water and nitrogen but it can also happen when there is a lot of extra moisture in the soil. Pepper production can depend on night time temperatures and a variety of other factors, so since you had good yield on the tomatoes I would suspect watering practices rather than an excess of nitrogen, but the only way to determine the real cause is to run some soil tests and see. Then you will know what amendments you need (and how much or how little) to use this year. Your County Extension (378-1237) can help with the soil tests and interpreting the results. Good luck with your garden this year!

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