tomato health check: blossom end rot, anyone?
ACCORDING TO MY AUGUST 1, 2010 scientific Facebook focus group (kidding, but four-dozen people did reply to my question about how their plants were doing) it was generally a thumb’s-up tomato year then so far. But with multiple hot, dry spells locally (even though I had been watering!), I kept worrying about the dreaded blossom end rot. And there it came, as expected—though hopefully not to stay.
Blossom end rot, which (just as it sounds) is a rotting of the fruit that begins as a watery spot on the blossom end, also affects peppers and eggplants. It’s a physiologic disorder—not something caused by a virus or fungus or bacteria, like so many other tomato ailments, but rather by physical stressors that prevent the fruit from taking up enough Calcium to come to ripeness in prime condition.
The watery spot transitions to a dry, sunken lesion (it looks as good as it sounds, above, served up on a non-silver spoon).
Why the deficiency of Calcium, though? What did I do wrong? Various factors can bring it about, including soil that suddenly goes dry (as in a fierce heatwave), excessive fluctuations in soil moisture, over-application of high-Nitrogen fertilizers (not guilty!), root-system damage, or the excess of other soil salts, among other causes.
On August 2, 2010, I didn’t see many more affected fruit—yet.
Like many of my Facebook friends (join us there?) from the Finger Lakes to Tucson, Michigan to Massachusetts, at that time, I did see this, though: generally late ripening. I was just then starting to get my first tomatoes, despite all the heat (which actually can slow down fruit set, as counter-intuitive as that may seem with a heat-loving crop).
And so I waited for enough fruits for that thrilling first pot of sauce. What about you? What’s the view into your slice of tomato life?
(Want more tomato dish? All my tomato posts–wisdom, whimsy and even recipes–are collected here.)