Not So ‘Glorified’ Tomatoes

This August heat! Watering our gardens at this point in the season is crucial. We’ve spent months caring for our veggies and now it’s make or break.

Inconsistent watering will affect your tomatoes. I’m having a problem with my heirloom tomatoes… I have blossom-end rot. This is a common problem that often affects larger varieties simply because they take longer to mature. But blossom-end rot can also affect cherry, grape, and other smaller varieties.

Blossom-End Rot

Blossom-end rot is a physiological condition (not fungal) caused by environmental stressors.  Most often though, its lack of/or inconsistent watering or a calcium deficiency in the soil. Now, these above-mentioned issues go hand and hand. If you’ve composted in the spring, chances are there is enough calcium in your soil. The problem is that the plant can not access enough of this mineral because it is not being watered properly. The plant needs ample water to absorb the calcium. Temperature and salt also play a factor… and we have salt in our soil.

The condition starts with a dark “scab” on the bottom of the tomato. The blemish will continue to grow into a dark brown-like bruise.

It’s not too late to correct this nutrient problem. Here’s the midsummer fix:

  1. Remove all affected tomatoes so the plant is not wasting energy, water and calcium on these damaged fruits. It is safe to remove the blemish and eat the healthy part of the tomato.
  2. Buy a calcium supplement and use as directed. Egg shells will not work at this stage as they need time to decompose.
  3. Water twice a day in extreme heat. And when I say water, I mean saturate the soil. Sprinkling water on your garden isn’t enough. When you think about it, how much of that soil below is actually wet, maybe only an inch? The soil needs to be moist at least a foot deep.
  4. I wrote about mulching a few weeks back. Mulch around your tomato plants. Mulching prevents evaporation and will retain 80% of the soil moisture.


Follow this guide and the problem will resolve in about two weeks. There is still plenty of tomato time! Good luck.

NOTE: I came across this interesting bit about a tomato variety named “The Mortgage Lifter.”  The cultivar was created in 1922 by Willam Estler of Barboursville, West Virginia (registered in 1932). The taste is a mild, sweet flavor. It’s pinkish red in color. The tomato is large and can grow to be two pounds! The Mortgage Lifter was the most popular of a group known as the Great Depression-era tomato breeds. They were developed for their saleability. It is said this allowed small plant nurseries and farmers to recover from debt.

For more on gardening,  follow me for the day-to-day in the field on Instagram –@theglorifiedtomato.

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