Blossom end rot on tomatoes

Blossom end rot on tomatoes.

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Blossom end rot is a problem on several speckled Roman tomato plants, as seen in the photo above, which was taken on August 1. Ugly. According to several online sites, the problem is a lack of calcium, which can occur if watering is erratic. It seems that the plant’s ability to absorb calcium from the soil is hampered by either too much or too little water. The plant itself will look healthy, but individual fruits will turn brown on the bottom, or blossom end, and grow steadily worse. They have to be thrown away. I guess they would be safe to compost, but I usually pitch them into the trash can headed for curbside pickup.

If low calcium in garden soil is a systemic problem, it can be addressed by adding lime to the soil. My garden soil this summer has tested around 6.7 pH, which is in an acceptable range but perhaps could be sweetened, as they say, with some organic lime.

What doesn’t make sense to me is that speckled Romans seem to be the tomatoes that are most affected by blossom end rot, just as the 1 tomato plant to succumb to tomato leaf curl, which may also be caused by erratic watering, was a speckled Roman. And if the watering was erratic, why weren’t neighboring tomato plants affected as well. Drip irrigation hoses under mulch, as mine are, might deliver different amounts of water in different areas. They might be closer to the roots, or the holes in the hoses might be bigger in some areas. When I use a water meter, which indicates relative levels of moisture, to check moisture in each raised bed, the moisture in various beds seems to be fairly consistent. It’s a mystery.

According to the post Tomatoes in June, 6 speckled Roman tomato plants were transplanted into the garden, as opposed to only 2 Amish paste plants, the other plum tomato plant. So, for the speckled Romans to have more problems than other plants is not good for tomato production this summer.

The other problem I have with the speckled Roman plants is that they have grown bigger and taller than any of the other indeterminate tomato plants, which sounds like a good thing, but not if their abundance of greenery is not accompanied by an abundance of fruit. It is not. Pretty much, the speckled Romans have fewer fruits, and many of those have been discarded due to the blossom end rot situation.

Next year, should I settle for Amish paste plum tomatoes and forget about the speckled Romans. That is the question. I like the appearance and flavor of the speckled Romans. I like the Amish pastes as well. The speckled Romans germinated better indoors, but the Amish pastes are producing better fruit. What’s funny is many of the Amish paste tomatoes have a pretty little stripe like the speckled Romans. Is that due to cross-pollination. I don’t know.

Much more about this in later tomato posts.

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