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Old 07-20-2005, 03:35 PM   #1
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Tomato Garden Help Please

My tomatoes are just starting to come in (yumm yumm), but the plum tomatoes I'm growing in barrels seem to have a problem. Some are ripening prematurely (turning red when they're just barely larger than grape tomatoes) AND have some sort of rot at then bottom end (they are not lying on the ground or anything). The larger ones -- the correct size for plums -- seem to be ripening more on schedule (in other words, first will be ready in a week or so) and don't have the rot, it is the smaller ones. So far my treatment has been to simply pull off anything that isn't right and trashing it, hoping to at least get the ones that look good now to harvest. What is this and what can I do about it? Is it simply a case of over-crowded roots, or is it something else? If it is a rot, will it "jump" to my in-ground early girls (got my first three from them this morning)?

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Old 07-20-2005, 04:02 PM   #2
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my cousin had that happen. his mother in law said it was from too much water but seeing as some of yours are okay and others are not i don't know if that could be the problem or not. hopefully someone will come along and be able to answer for you
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Old 07-20-2005, 04:18 PM   #3
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Claire, I had that happen with my container tomatoes from last year, my master gardener friend told me it was because I resued my old potting soil. I don't know if your case is similar or not...I have heard this happening with people who have their tomatoes in the ground, and don't crop rotate every year. It has something to do with not having anymore nutrients or something.

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Old 07-20-2005, 04:52 PM   #4
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Is this what it looks like?

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3117.html
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Old 07-20-2005, 05:55 PM   #5
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This might help...taken from http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/horticulture/nf43.htm

Blossom end rot of tomatoes is a common problem. It occurs under conditions of high plant water stress and heavy fruit load. The first sign is a small, water-soaked area around the blossom end of the fruit that rapidly darkens and enlarges. As this lesion enlarges, it shrinks and the area becomes sunken and leather-like. This depressed area may become infected with secondary pathogens. Early fruits on the plant may have blossom end rot, while those that develop later are normal.
Blossom end rot is a symptom of calcium deficiency in the fruit. It can occur even when there is abundant calcium in the soil and tissue tests show high levels of calcium in the plant. Poor calcium distribution in the plant results in low calcium levels where the lesion occurs.

Calcium, dissolved in water, moves through the plant in the vascular system from the roots to the leaves. Leaves are the primary sink for movement of water because of water loss through transpiration. Under high moisture stress, the water containing calcium and other minerals moves rapidly to the leaves. Fruit does not transpire as much as leaves and thus tends to be bypassed. This results in a localized calcium deficiency. This calcium deficiency in an area of rapid growth, the end of the fruit, causes cells to collapse and the sunken-lesion symptom of blossom end rot.

Blossom end rot may appear on some of the first fruit clusters on a plant. This is attributed to the combination of rapid plant growth with a large leaf area for water transpiration, water stress, and fruit enlargement. Even a temporary water stress during early fruit enlargement can cause blossom end rot because the fruits are the last to receive adequate calcium.

Calcium, unlike potassium or phosphorus, is not remobilized from the leaves to the fruits. Thus, foliar sprays of calcium won't correct blossom end rot. Tomato fruits do not have openings in the epidermis (skin) where moisture can be lost or where calcium can enter the fruit from surface application. Thus, direct application of calcium to fruit is ineffective.

Another cause of blossom end rot is over-fertilization, especially of nitrogen, which stimulates vegetative growth. Excessive vegetative growth increases the transpiration surface and further prevents calcium accumulation in the fruit. Tomato varieties with large amounts of foliage tend to be more susceptible to blossom end rot. Adjust the nitrogen rate for each cultivar to reduce blossom end rot. Avoid ammoniacal forms of nitrogen that compete with calcium during uptake from the soil.

Hot, windy conditions with low relative humidity can cause high transpiration rates ideal for inducing blossom end rot. Fluctuations in soil moisture during periods of rapid plant growth create moisture stress and limits calcium distribution to the fruit.

Preventing moisture stress is important to control blossom end rot, especially during fruit set and fruit enlargement. Plants require 1 acre-inch of water per week or more in sandy soil and during hot, windy weather.

Mulch to conserve moisture and adjust the nitrogen rate to the type of tomato being grown to avoid excessive vegetation. Use nitrogen in the form of potassium or calcium nitrate and avoid ammonium nitrate. Check soil pH and soil nutrient levels annually and adjust the pH to between 6.5 to 6.7 if necessary. Apply potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium as recommended because balancing these nutrients with calcium is also important in preventing blossom end rot. The primary factor, however, is maintaining uniformly adequate soil moisture throughout the season.
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Old 07-20-2005, 10:27 PM   #6
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Your local plant nusery will sell you some stuff to stop the blossom end rot. We had this problem a couple of years ago and the stuff worked well.
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Old 07-20-2005, 10:30 PM   #7
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Thread moved to vegetable forum
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Old 07-20-2005, 10:31 PM   #8
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thank you jkath... i just asked about that lol
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Old 07-21-2005, 02:15 PM   #9
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I grow tomatoes every year and my Romas or plum tomatoes are always the ones that get this. I think they are more susceptible. My MIL who is an ace gardener gave me a container of crushed up eggshells to sprinkle on the pots this year. I have had a couple of tomatoes show up with it, but by and large I am rot free this year.

The trick (other than the calcium) seems to be making sure the tomatoes don't dry out too much and that they don't get too much water either! I have taken to giving each plant a 2 cup drink in the morning and in the evening every day. This is working for me. Hope that helps you out.

BTW, my plants are on my deck which is Africa hot during the day.
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Old 07-23-2005, 06:29 AM   #10
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Thanks to all! I don't use a lot of eggs, but you betcha next spring I'll be saving the shells of those I do! In my case the earliest (largest) tomatoes are fine, it's some of the later ones that have the rot. But thanks for letting me know it isn't a disease that might jump. Lack of water/too much water could BOTH be an issue, since they are container plants and we're in a drought year here .... in other words, 'though I try to be consistent in my watering, it isn't natural at all. My plants in the ground are doing very well. The plums in a barrell were an expriment ... I usually use "patio" tomatoes in the barrels. And, yes, I re-use the soil ... does everyone really throw away all those gallons of soil every year? My trash bill would kill me. I just supplement mine with composted manure and other nutrients and re-plant unless I know something was actually diseased (which is why I asked to begin with).
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