Friday, August 10, 2012

A Tale of Two Tomatoes

About the tomatoes -all other problems aside, I must report that I completely eliminated blossom end rot from my tomato patch this year. It was a dastardly problem last season, particularly bad in the roma tomatoes, affecting nearly half the crop. What is different this year? I planted them same type of tomatoes in the very same beds using the very same drip system for irrigation. But, I did have the soil tested, which led to important information about my plot. First, I found that my garden soil was acidic, somewhere near a high 5 pH. Second, I found that I had more lead than I wished, somewhere near 100 ppm.

The first thing I did was lime the beds in February to bring up the pH. Lime is high in calcium and has other trace elements, all useful for tomatoes suffering from blossom end rot which is often described as a deficiency of such. Liming also helps locked up minerals become available -it's all part of a neutral soil program (see this). 

The second thing I did was add 25 pounds of granulated fish bone meal into the beds in March. I had read that the EPA was using fish bones to remedy soils high in lead (in short: the lead binds to a mineral in the bones, creating a new, insoluble mineral). My thinking was that their fish bones couldn't be any fancier than ordinary fish bones, and how much could it hurt anyway. Fish bones are also high in calcium and trace minerals, again, useful for the tomatoes suffering from blossom end rot.

And today, not one instance of blossom end rot in my tomato beds. This should suffice as evidence of a solution, but we also had contrary situation nearby to underscore our results.

Just outside our plot we planted our extra tomatoes. The soil is the same as ours, of course, but didn't receive any amendments this winter. Almost all of the roma type tomatoes look like this. Blech -I'll never go back.


  1. i am confused--did you plant the same variety (roma) inside as outside the amended plot? only the roma had BER inside & outside the amended plot?

    i am reading "teaming with microbes". i will certainly look into "life in the soil".

    1. The pictured variety is "Milano plum". It is both inside and right outside our plot. The only BER was on tomatoes outside our plot

    2. so you will never go back to the failure to amend?

    3. so you will never go back to the failure to amend?


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