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Home » Organic Gardening

Tomatoes & Blossom End Rot

Submitted by on July 23, 2009 – 5:17 pm 20 Comments
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I was all excited when I saw my beautiful round tomatoes turning red. I couldn’t wait to cut one up and enjoy the fruits of my labor! Then, just as they were turning a nice shade of red, I noticed something devastating… my tomatoes are rotting!

They look all nice from the top, but as soon as I go to pick one I realize that the whole bottom of it is rotten and moldy. Yuck!!

I called my mother-in-law (as I do with all of my homemaking questions!) and described to her what the tomatoes looked like. She quickly diagnosed my problem:

Tomato Rot (also know as Blossom-end Rot).

She suggested that I pick the bad ones off the plant; and don’t throw them in the compost pile.

I’ve been searching for an answer to the problem, but I can’t find anything that will tell me how to treat it, only how to prevent it. It comes from a lack of Calcium in the plant. It could be from a lack of water, too much water, or low pH levels in the soil.

So, I’m not sure what to do now.

At least the tomatoes in the goat’s pen are still lookin’ good!

I still have lots of nice big green tomatoes growing on the affected plants, and I need to treat them before they go bad too! Anyone know what to do to STOP Bottom-end Rot?

UPDATE (6/2014):

I was scrolling through my archives and found this old post, and thought I should update you all on what I’ve learned in the years since writing this and how I prevent Blossom End Rot in my garden.

It’s simple, and free.

I save my cracked egg shells and used coffee grounds, set them out in the sun to dry, then sprinkle them liberally around the base of my tomato and pepper plants. Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had a problem with Blossom End Rot. Highly recommend!

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  • Margie says:

    This site may be of help to you:

  • sandra407 says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  • Kim says:

    didn’t really have time to read all suggestions but supposedley if you mix some epson salt with some water the bag should have directions as to how much you should use, it will help with that!

  • Lanna says:

    Oh, and BER is more common on Roma-type tomatoes if I remember right…

  • Lanna says:

    I have no idea how to stop it after it starts, but I do save up all my eggshells throughout the year to throw in the tomato/pepper holes when I’m transplanting stuff outside. The kids think it’s great fun.

  • Debbie in PA says:

    Forgot to add…..check your green tomatoes and pick off the ones rotting as well…..

  • Debbie in PA says:

    From Mother Earth News:

    “What you are seeing is a nutritional disorder called blossom-end rot. It is very common in early summer, when plants are growing rapidly and attempting to meet the demands placed on them by fruits. When they can’t pump quite enough nutrients to the fruits, the blossom end of the fruit develops rot spots. Naturally, the problem is most common with large-fruited tomatoes because it’s a farther trip from the stem attachment to the end of the fruit.

    Acidic conditions make it difficult for tomatoes to take up calcium, so mixing dolomitic lime or slow-release rock phosphate into the soil, well before planting, will help to prevent this problem, if your soil is naturally acidic. Fluctuating soil moisture and too much nitrogen, which pushes the plants to grow, also contribute to the problem.

    To reduce the disorder once it’s in progress, pick off affected fruits. Lightening the fruit load will make it easier for the plants to meet the needs of flawless specimens. Also pile on plenty of mulch, which will prevent fluctuations in soil moisture”

    I have had this problem from time to time, and haven’t really tried anything. However, I just read something in our local paper about crushing egg shells and raking them around the plants. Might be worth a try….

  • Louise says:

    Try crushing some eggshells and digging them in around the bases of your plants. They’ll slowly release calcium into the soil and keep your tomatoes happy. Also water every day that it doesn’t rain, and check the soil pH. They usually sell pH test kits at nurseries or hardware stores. Hope this helps!

  • Meggan says:

    I used crushed egg shells and powdered milk mixed into the soil around the plant, then watered in well to stop it…seemed to work for me!!

  • Heather says:

    I had that problem, too. I read that mixing eggshells into the soil will help with the lack of calcium.

  • Julie says:

    My tip- always pick tomatoes right before they turn red (like when they start to show a little pink). I know that vine rippened is ideal but it’s just safer to pick them early.

    Have a blessed day,

  • Jen says:

    This will sound silly, but it works for us. When I make hard-boiled eggs, I throw the shells in a sun-tea jar. Cover it with water and leave it out in the sun. Whenever I water the tomatoes, I use water from my sun-tea jar and then refill it. I just keep throwing egg shells in there all summer long. The calcium from the shells leaches into the water. You can also put a couple of crushed egg shells in the hole when you are planting the tomatoes. I haven’t had a problem with blossom-end rot since I started doing this. Good luck!

  • Pam W. says:

    The instructor of the gardening class I’m currently taking just explained that sometimes, although you may get a few bad tomatoes on a plant with the blossom-end rot, sometimes after those have been removed, the plant will go on to produce healthy tomatoes. Hopefully that will happen for you and you can go on to get healthy tomatoes.

  • Becca says:

    I forgot something. This fall after you pull up old plants you should put some lime in your soil. And, start putting egg shells in the compost pile. As long as you add lime/calcium to the soil every other year you should avoid blossom end rot.

  • Becca says:

    Blossom end rot is a symptom of calcium deficiency, so I would go with Richard’s suggestion.

    My sad looking tomatoes are the half eaten ones. I never see grasshoppers out there, but they are clearly present and loving the cherry tomatoes. If i pick them at the first sign of ripening, and bring them inside they are usually safe, but if I skip a day, I have sad little tomatoes. Any solution for them (that’s hopefully not straying the whole place with pestacides)

  • arcanabtn says:

    I’ve read that you can bury eggshells before you set the plant and that will solve blossom end rot.

  • LisaAlso says:

    If these are the first fruit this season, it may work itself out and be just fine. I usually put a cheap calcium antacid tablet in each hole as I plant the tomatoes, but even that doesn’t prevent at least a few fruit with BER. Other people put crushed egg shells in the holes or around the plants, but I never had enough shells!

  • Maranda says:

    It helps to know how much you water and if you’ve fertilized it at all. I bet that you have an issue with the ph level, because in a previous post you had mentioned that you forgot to fertilize. Also, you say that the tomatoes in the goat pen were doing great. IMO, I would try to fertilize the plants. I was told by a master gardener, that used coffee grounds are a great fertilizer for your plants. Keep your grounds from your morning coffee and put some around the base of each plant and leave it there. It worked wonders for my roses. Let me know if it works for your tomatoes. 🙂

  • Erin says:

    I don’t know how quickly it works, but egg shells are great for a natural calcium boost in the soil. So sad to see your beautiful tomatoes end that way. We’ve had our share of garden disasters as well. Every year I learn a little more, and find there is a whole lot more I have yet to learn!

  • richard anderson says:

    I use a calcium spray on the whole plant. It works for me .

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