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Blossom-End Rot

Why are my veggies rotting?

Having problems with your fruit developing a brown, leathery spot at the base?
This condition is called Blossom-End Rot.

Blossom-end rot is a physiological problem caused by a calcium imbalance .
In plants, calcium is responsible for holding cell walls together. Nutrients have to make their way all the way up the roots, through the stem, and all the way down the fruit. The bottom of the fruit is the farthest location for nutrients to reach, which is why symptoms can be seen at fruit bases. In order for fruit to develop properly, there has to be a sufficient amount of calcium circulating within.

What to look for

Although tomatoes seem to be the most susceptible to blossom-end rot, pepper, squash, cucumber, eggplant, and melon fruits can also experience these issues.

You will see a brown, leathery spot on the underside of fruit.

First symptoms appear when fruit are about half their full-size.

Sometimes the rot appears on the first fruits of the season and works its way out for later harvests.

What’s Causing my Calcium Imbalance?

  • Inconsistent Watering
    The lack of calcium in developing fruit is commonly a water-related issue, either dry/wet spells in weather or improper watering.
    Calcium is carried through the xylem (plant tissue that moves water and dissolved nutrients). So without enough water, the calcium has no means to move throughout the plant. And too much water can result in the opposite – a build up of calcium.
  • Imbalance of Soil Nutrients
    If you truly don’t believe there’s any moisture issues, there could be an imbalance of nutrients in your soil. Either a lack of calcium itself or possibly too much nitrogen.
  • Incorrect Soil pH
    We recommend that your soil’s pH stays in the range between 6.5 and 6.8. When the pH is out of this range, it is difficult for the soil to release calcium.
  • Damaged Roots
    Roots are the gateways for nutrients to enter through. When damaged, calcium can’t break its way into the plant as easily.

Conquer blossom-end rot with these simple steps!

First off, pick any affected fruit, for they will continue to rot. To begin to fix the problem try…

  • Proper Moisture Levels
    • Make sure to water thoroughly – vegetables need about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water a week while fruiting.
  • Bonide Rot-Stop
    • Spray this product on newly developing fruits to restore calcium. This is not a long term fix but will salvage your harvest.
  • Get to Know Your Garden
    • Some varieties are simply more susceptible, so observe and record notes about what is affected for reference year after year
  • Test Your Soil & Add Appropriate Amendments
    • We always recommend having your soil tested before adding any amendments. It’s VERY easy to overdo it when adding nutrients to your soil. This can mess up your soil big time and takes time to bounce back from.
      • Local soil testing is provided for a low cost through Virginia Tech. You can pick up a sampling box at any VT Extension Center and then mail it into the lab. You will receive a full analysis of your soil as well as amendment recommendations. Full sampling instructions can be found here!
    • Add Lime to Raise pH – we have First Saturday Lime IN STOCK
    • Add Gypsum or crushed eggshells (mix in compost too!), great calcium sources if the pH is already okay.

Hopefully, with these tips you can conquer blossom-end rot & save your produce!

Have other garden issues? Ask away! We’ll be solving your garden woes in upcoming blog posts!
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