Soil Prep - Knowledgebase Question

Sacramento, Ca
Question by myersx2
March 4, 2010
My husband likes to grow tomatos. The firt year was great. Every year since, not so great. We add new planting mix and he adds fertilizer and we our tomatos are soft and have soft spots on the bottom like a ring. What can we do to get those good firm and tasty tomatos again, like we had the first year. We had a gardener make the planted box and he filled it with soil that first year.

Answer from NGA
March 4, 2010


What you describe sounds like blossom end rot, a physiological condition caused by a lack of calcium at the growing tip of the fruit. While your soil may have adequate calcium, fluctuations in soil moisture content from dry to wet really increase the incidence of blossom end rot. It is especially bad on the early fruit each summer and in sandy soils. The damage occurs as cells die at the tip of the fruit. In time (and as the fruit grows) the spots enlarge and turn black. So, by the time you see it, the damage actually has already occurred some time back. Remedies include: having a soil test to make sure calcium levels are adequate, adding organic matter to a sandy soil to increase its moisture holding capacity, keeping plants evenly moist, especially during the development of the first fruits (mulch helps maintain soil moisture), and spraying plants with a Blossom End Rot spray (contains calcium) which can usually be purchased from your local garden center. Don't wait until you see it to spray with Blossom End Rot spray. If you have an annual problem with blossom end rot, treat when the fruit reaches marble size. The tomatoes are still edible. Just cut away the affected portion. Hope this information helps you grow wonderful tomatoes!

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