No guarantees against crop failures – by Arzeena Hamir
August 28, 2013 • 1 Comment
“Your garden must be some amazing!” is often what I hear when I tell people I have my degrees in agriculture. Unfortunately, formal education is not really an indicator on how well your plants grow.A great example is the prevalence of blossom end rot that I’ve had in one of my greenhouses. I have lost many tomatoes to this condition. The only thing that my background has helped me with is figuring out what the problem is. I know that this is a calcium deficiency and not a fungal disease like late blight.
Calcium is needed in the growing tips of both fruits and leaves and requires water to transport itself throughout the plant. When water levels fluctuate, fruit will set but then the tips will begin to soften and a secondary rot appears as a black spot. This often occurs with tomatoes that are growing in pots, especially when we have a long dry spell like we did this summer.
I had hoped to prevent the issue by mulching heavily around my plants. If you recall, way back in early July, I had placed a heavy amount of barley straw around the plants to keep soil moisture from evaporating away. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough for this particular variety, Striped Roma.
One good thing to note is that certain varieties are more susceptible than others. The Striped Romas had many fruit affected by blossom end rot but other Romas did not. My cherry tomatoes all seem to be doing fine too.
So, in the end, I guess having the educational background helps so that I’m not scratching my head and wondering what the heck happened. But I still get many crop failures like everyone else.
Growing food… it’s so humbling!