Hi, my name is: Blossom End Rot

Describe yourself: Firstly, let me just say that I am not a disease, a fungus, a virus or any of that! I am a disorder… got that! I live at the blossom end of fruits, and appear brown, tough and sunken. I look water soaked, and honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Hobbies: Spreading the love… all over your fruit, especially tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, watermelons and zucchinis! Destroying your crop!

Likes: People who don’t water properly, like, you know when you water and then don’t water for like two weeks and come back and water again? I love that! I love gardens that are waaaayyyy over-fertilised with nitrogen and potassium, really acidic soils and calcium deficiencies!

Dislikes: Good pH, good watering practices, mulches, wind breaks to stop plants drying out, soil with great water holding capacity.

You’ll know you’ve met me when: Oh sugar, you’ll know. If one end of your fruit looks revolting, brown and kind squishy… you’ve met me! Oh, and if there is little hairs on it, that’s still me, but I have bought one of my fungal friends along!

Old School Control Methods: Dumping truckloads of chelated calcium into the garden.

Breaking up ain’t hard to do… if you

  • Protect crops with suitable windbreaks.
  • If the soil pH is below 5.5, add lime before planting.
  • If the soil drains poorly, apply gypsum (calcium sulphate).
  • On light sandy soils, apply organic matter such as poultry manure before planting, to increase the moisture-holding ability of the soil and reduce water stress in hot weather.
  • Follow a well-balanced fertiliser program. Apply low applications of fertilisers frequently to limit their salting effect.
  • On sandy soils with high levels of salt, increase watering to leach salts.
  • Water plants adequately, especially at fruiting. Apply more water on hot days.
  • Mulch!!!!!!

Picture: Elaine Shallue (SGA)