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why do tomatoes rot from the bottom up

When you have plenty of tomatoes on your plants, but some of them look like they are rotting on the vine, your tomatoes are suffering fromВblossom end rot. The first sign is a brown discoloration near the bottom end of the fruit. These spots grow and darken until they cover up to half of the tomato, and the rotting fruit becomes vulnerable to secondary bacteria and fungi. The affected tomatoes can t be saved, but the plant can. Blossom end rot is the result of calcium deficiency. However, that doesn t necessarily mean that you need to add calcium to your soil. Blossom end rot is most often caused by watering practicesвyour own or Mother Nature s. In a typical situation, the soil is allowed to dry out completely, and then the gardener over-compensates by watering heavily when the plant starts to wilt. The plant bounces back, but the damage has been done to fruit in an early state of development. During the dry conditions, the plant was unable to absorb sufficient calcium from the soil through its roots.

When fruit develops, it shows the telltale rot at the blossom end. Another less common situation occurs when plants are given too much water. If you have a cool, wet spring and summer in your parts of the country, the plants take up so much moisture that the amount of available calcium is diluted, and the result is blossom end rot. If the problem is caused by too much moisture, side-dress the plants with bone meal to replenish the soil s supply of calcium. A few brands of organic blossom end rot spray are on the market. These are calcium sprays that you spray on the foliage every week or so. This doesn t save any fruit that already shows rot, but it may prevent rot on future fruit. Test your soil in the fall or early spring for calcium. If it is calcium deficient, as determined by a
В kit purchased at your local garden center, add ground limestone before setting out the tomato plants.

A half pound of ground limestone per 10 square feet of soil raises the soil pH by about one point. If you can t locate a soil test kit that measures calcium content, contact your local cooperative extension service to learn how to collect a soil sample and send it to the lab for analysis. The report you receive alerts you to any mineral deficienciesВ in your soilвincluding calciumвas well as steps to correct the problems. After you, mulch the soil around the plants with sawdust, or grass clippings to prevent the loss of moisture. If you have tomatoes with blossom end rot on your plants, remove the damaged tomatoesвthey ll keep growing and use the plant s energy, which is better put to use producing new rot-free fruit. Sounds like your tomatoes have got a case of blossom end rot, a very common condition that is caused by a calcium deficiency that leads to disfiguration of developing fruit. In general, the condition is not caused by a lack of calcium in the soil, but because the plant is unable to take up the calcium that is already there due to drought or an erratic watering schedule.

Do not despair. A lot of gardeners (myself included) have found themselves in your position this summer. Large parts of North America have been experiencing record highs, prolonged heat waves and a disturbing lack of rainfall. Keeping plants happy through these extremes has been a struggle, one that is made worse if you are growing in pots. To answer your question, yes you can cut off the rot and eat whatвs left of the fruit в it wonвt kill you or make you sick. However, I find that the remaining fruit tends to be mealy and poor quality. If you do eat it, do so right away; do not try to can or preserve it. Fortunately, blossom end rot is not a viral, bacterial or fungal issue в you still have plenty of time to turn things around and produce primo tomatoes with a bit of due diligence.

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