dancing gardener
What is blossom-end rot? How can I prevent it?
Daniel's short version:

Poopy Bum is from the plant itself not bringing calcium to the fruit. The plant may be getting a crazy ass amount of growth and not enough water, or weird weather phases. Just knock them off the plant like a retarded brother off his bike.

The Long Version (I stole from someone~~~~kudos to them anyways....)
Blossom-end rot is a disorder of tomato, squash, pepper, and all other fruiting vegetables. You notice that a dry sunken decay has developed on the blossom end (opposite the stem) of many fruit, especially the first fruit of the season. This is not a pest, parasite or disease process but is a physiological problem caused by a low level of calcium in the fruit itself.


BER, or blossom-end rot usually begins as a small "water-soaked looking" area at the blossom end of the fruit while still green. As the lesion develops, it enlarges, becomes sunken and turns tan to dark brown to black and leathery. In severe cases, it may completely cover the lower half of the fruit, becoming flat or concave, often resulting in complete destruction of the infected fruit.


Calcium is required in relatively large concentrations for normal cell growth. When a rapidly growing fruit is deprived of calcium, the tissues break down, leaving the characteristic lesion at the blossom end. Blossom-end rot develops when the fruit's demand for calcium exceeds the supply in the soil. This may result from low calcium levels in the soil, drought stress, excessive soil moisture, and/or fluctuations due to rain or overwatering . These conditions reduce the uptake and movement of calcium into the plant, or rapid, vegetative growth due to excessive nitrogen fertilization.


Adequate preparation of the garden bed prior to planting is the key to preventing BER. Insure adequately draining soil in the bed by adding needed ammendments, maintain the soil pH around 6.5 - a pH out of this range limits the uptake of calcium. Lime (unless the soil is already alkaline), composted manures or bone meal will supply calcium but take time to work so must be applied prior to planting. Excess ammonial types of nitrogen in the soil can reduce calcium uptake as can a depleted level of phosphorus. After planting, avoid deep cultivation that can damage the plant roots, use mulch to help stabilize soil moisture levels and help avoid drought stress, avoid overwatering as plants generally need about one inch of moisture per week from rain or irrigation for proper growth and development.

Once the problem develops, quick fixes are difficult. Stabilize the moisture level as much as possible, but prevention is the key. Some recommend removing affected fruit from to reduce stress in the plant.

Rapid early growth accentuates the problem because it tends to increase the calcium requirement per unit of time.

Although a sudden lack of water is the principal cause of blossom end rot, excessive soil moistures early in the season may smother the root hairs and cause blossom end rot to occur during sudden hot weather. It may be more serious on the windward that on the leeward side of a field and more common on staked tomatoes than on bush types. Generally, blossom end rot is most common on the first fruits to turn red.


Since blossom end rot is so closely related to adequacy of water supply, an important control is to regulate the moisture supply in the soil. The land should allow good drainage during a wet period. If drought occurs, cultivation should be very shallow to reduce water loss and irrigation should be used. Hoeing or cultivating should be performed no closer than one foot from the plants to reduce root pruning.

In the greenhouse, transplants should not be grown too quickly nor should the plants be too old and subjected to severe hardening before transplanting. A steady growth rate as a seedling and as a field plant will discourage much of this problem.

If irrigation of any kind is available, it should be using during periods of hot, drying winds. Start to irrigate at the beginning of the dry spell. Mulching, which serves to maintain an even level of soil moisture, should be practiced where feasible. Mulch with black plastic or grass clippings to reduce moisture loss and to control weeds. Tomatoes and peppers planted unusually early, while the soil is still cold, are likely to have the first fruits affected by blossom end rot. Consequently, a delay in planting until soil


" The Contentment of Ko Hung"


The contented man can be happy with what appears to be useless. He can find worthwhile occupation in the forests and mountains. He stays in a small cottage and associates with the simple. He would not exchange his worn clothes for the imperial robes, nor the load on his back for a four-horse carriage. He leaves the jade in the mountains and the pearls in the sea. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he can he happy - he knows when to stop. He does not pick the brief-blossoming flower, he does not travel the dangerous road. To him, the ten thousand possessions are dust in the wind. He sings as he travels among the green mountains. He finds sheltering branches more comforting than red-gated mansions, the plow in his hands more rewarding than the prestige of titles and banners, fresh mountain water more satisfying than the feasts of the wealthy. He acts in true freedom. What can competition for honours mean to him? What attraction can anxiety and greed possibly hold'? Through simplicity he has Tao, and from Tao, everything. He sees the light in the "darkness", the clear in the "cloudy", the speed in the "slowness", the full in the "empty". The cook creating the meal with his own hands has as much in his eyes as a famous singer or high official. He has no profits to gain, no salary to lose, no applause, no criticism. When he looks up, it is not in envy. When he looks down, it is not in arrogance. Many look at him, but nobody sees him. Calm and detached, he is free from all danger, a dragon hidden among men.



Bondage at the Stake makes for big safe tomatoes. I use 8 ft end cuts trimmed from cedar fencing boards for tripod construction. I sharpen the bottom to make it easier to push each stake at least a foot away from the base of the plant. To secure the top i use a double wrap of haywire loosely connected, then scrunched by pliers to hold firm the three sticks together (easy to unwrap the wire for reuse each year). Tomato branches now have three vertical supports to tie with jute twine (decomposes easily). Now air can flow easily through plant, bottom leaves can be removed, and tomato fruit is supported far from ground.
As the plant gets taller the branches get tight nearing the top of the tripod and in the late fall act as a "toque" to stop frost falling inside the plant.


100 ft Gardening
I always say if i had only one veggie to grow it would be chard. Well, I saved 160 favourite coloured chards to put in a friends vegetable field. A serious attempt at seeing if rotten straw and hay will minimize weeding in a traditional farm garden.


Kale and Naked Yoga
Probably have never mixed, but LOOK HOW BIG this Rainbow kale grew. This 15 month old 50 pounder has provided so many beautiful leaves eaten throughout the entire winter and will now provide seeds to last for many years.


The Great Eh' Scape!

Zombies No, Vampires Yes! For those that love a nice whack of garlic the scape is a wonderful part of the garlic plant usually removed so all the growth energy goes towards underground bulb, rather than flower and bulbill development (bulbill is the big flower that turns into little round balls-seeds). Simply break off scape and eat like asparagus for full shot, or be a whimp and chop it up into cream cheeze for cracker dip like i did in this pic. Easy Peasy!

 Here are some other ideas for using scapes:
add to quiche or omelets
add to any stir fry recipe
chop and add to cream cheese
dry and make a spice
excellent on the grill
use in place of green onions
great in guacamole and salsa
chop and sprinkle over pasta
add to homemade vinaigrette
excellent addition to stocks
good in salads or on bruschette

Freezing Scapes

Cut scapes into  1-2" pieces.  Put cut scapes into a food processor and chop for 15-30 seconds.   Transfer scapes to quart size freezer bags and flatten for ease of storage.  Scapes can be kept frozen for up to 1 year, but are best eaten within 6 months.

daniel tomelin, dancing gardener, dancing gardener