Source of Calcium to treat EBR in tomatoes.

chaman(z7MD)July 9, 2010

EBR ( end blossom rot ) in tomatoes can be prevented by feeding plants with Calcium.Antiacid tablets is a handy source to feed Calcium.Dissolve one or to tablets in a gallon of water, add a cup of milk to it and feed the solution to your plants.You will see it's effect in couple of days.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry but BER (blossom end rot) is not caused by a lack of calcium but by the plants inability to supply the available calcium to the fruit due to inconsistent soil moisture levels. This is well documented scientifically thanks to all the research funded by the commercial tomato growing industry. You can find both a FAQ as well as many discussions about it along with research links over on the Growing Tomatoes forum here.

While certain varieties of tomatoes are more prone to BER early in the season, if a cure was really that simple then the commercial industry would have adopted it decades ago. Using antacid tablets is one of the many debunked old wives tales that exist about this condition and like the use of egg shells and the many other "cure" claims, it doesn't hold up in practical experience. Any "cure" that happens is strictly coincidence since BER always disappears all on its own as the plant matures and adapts to its environment.

Respectfully suggest some further reading on this topic.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 11:48AM
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Further, an antacid tablet has pitiful amounts of calcium anyway, perhaps one gram. A mature tomato plant, including the tomatoes, easily has 30 grams of Calcium. I give about a cup of wood ash per plant. Of course that is mostly to provide or replenish Mg and K, and perhaps other things such as B or Mn as well.

But those are the doses. A gallon of wood ash has the K of approximately 150 medium tomatoes, and also approximately 1.5 lbs of Ca, enough for maybe 20 plants.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 1:35PM
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Thanks both of you digidirt6 and glib. for your comments.
I am citing one reference about need of calcium and effect of deficiency of Calcium in producing EBR.
This ref. is from Ohio State University:
Paragraph C explains the role of Calcium in creating EBR.
Mg,K,Mn etc. are important micro-nutrients required for balance growth of plants.
Commercial tomato growing industry has well balanced approach in growing tomatoes from the available research for the amount of fertilizers, micro-nutrient and watering schedule required to keep the EBR to a minimum level.
It is difficult to maintain ideal conditions maintained by the tomato growing industry.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 4:53PM
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DrHorticulture_(Z3 Central Saskatchewan)


are you sure there's 30 grams of Ca in a tomato plant, even a large one?? A kilogram of broccoli, considered a good plant Ca source, has about 0.5 g. That would be one huge tomato plant :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 5:24PM
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About the wood wood stove needs emptied and I want to get the best use out of the ashes. I have 28 tom plants, 35 pepper plants, a garden that needs lots of amending and a huge compost pile that is 1/2 broken down. I didn't want to just dump it in the compost if there is a better use for it. Gee, we used the stove during May this yr.
Whats the best use for it...I'm new to gardening. Should I save it for next year?
Thanks for your expert advice!
Yeah, I did the egg shells, figured it couldn't hurt. Had several BER toms last yr but we had a wet June.

Yay, I have a dozen or so baby green tomatoes and my mouth is watering for Annies salsa!!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 5:48PM
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I have used calcium nitrate in my greenhouses for certain plants requiring calcium supplementation. And, it's a good supplementation for tomato production! In that chaman is correct.....and can be a factor if your soil is deficient in it, but BER even in soils with good calcium availability is more dependent on good watering. Either too much or too little can induce BER. When I use cal nitrate, it is because I do not want to use ammonia or urea based Nitrogen in winter crops.

Using cal nitrate, however, will give you great plants, but can hold off blossom set.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 7:26PM
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Drhort, you may be right. Green matter has a fairly constant Ca content, that is broccoli is similar to chard or grass, and it is at the level of 0.5% total weight. The roots of a tomato plant are probably only half the weight of the aerial parts, and so 10 grams is probably closer to the truth. The point about the dose is valid, though, since if you want 10 grams in the plant, you need to put a lot more in the soil. Ca, incidentally, is typically the micronutrient with the highest concentration in the soil.

Wood ash does not go bad (just today I finally emptied a trash can of the stuff from 2007) and provides all nutrients except nitrogen and sulfur. It also has an alkaline effect, so it works better here in the East than in the West. Most plants love the stuff. I give it to anything except potatoes and some ornamentals such as rhododendron and azaleas.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 6:02PM
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Glib: call me picky but, I'm sure you meant to say that Ca is a macronutrient not a micronutrient, others may not know that so I thought I'd make the correction.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 5:37PM
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One more source for Calcium suppliment is available in form of chocolates known as Calcium chews.This one is highly recommended for bone health.Additional advantage in using Calcium chews is it contains vitamine D along with Calcium.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 10:28PM
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Why would I give chocolate calcium chews to my tomato plants with blossom end rot? It would be much cheaper and more effective to just correct my watering pattern

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 2:45PM
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llaz(z6 ma)

I think Dave said it all clearly at the beginning of the thread. Any "treatments" will not work, especially after you have BER, because the tomatoes can't absorb the calcium. Over fertilization and inconsistent watering are typical culprits, but regardless, the problem usually disappears as the season progresses. For next year, choose varieties that are less prone to BER.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 11:06PM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

Well, I am disappointed to hear it is from watering practices, because I can't do anything about that. We get such a wicked amount of rain every spring/early summer that I don't water the garden at all because it is just ridiculous how much water the garden gets naturally.

My BER is only in the first part of the season, the plants seem to get over it later in the season. (When the damn rain stops????) Anyway, my solution has always just been to pick any green maters I see with rot and fling them into the yard, so that plant does not waste any more effort on that fruit.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 1:58PM
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Calcium can be a difficult mineral to handle. The important thing is to have plenty of calcium in the ground before you plant. Adding calcium in the form of egg shells or oyster shells may take an entire growing season before the calcium becomes available. If your soil is on the acid side the calcium may be there but not in a form the plant can use. If it is tied up with acidic compounds adding lime may be the answer. It not only adds calcium but can counteact the acid that is tying up your calcium. Soil test kits for PH are cheap and available at any nursery. They aren't terribly accurate but can give you a ball park idea of your soil PH.
As already noted by other posters even watering is also important. The plant cannot store calcium very well so if the flow of calcium is interrupted by dry soil the plant cannot correct the calcium deficiency. Try to keep the soil evenly moist; never too dry but not flooded for a long period either. When you water use something like a barely flowing or fast dripping hose and let it go for several hours so the water gets good and deep. Often we think the soil has plenty of water but it is only moist for the first foot or so and dry deeper than that. Tomato roots can go three feet deep and the deeper soil may be where the calcium is.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:41PM
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Hey Grenmylberry,
Another option to explore is growing tomato varieties that are less susceptible to BER. I can't remember which ones are best, except that many cherry tomato varieties are less likely to be affected, but I can tell you that San Marzano was far and away the worst tomato I've grown for getting BER.

Since you say the problem fixes itself later in the season you just need a few early varieties that aren't so susceptible. If no one here has any recommendations, the people on the Tomato forum will probably be able to help.

Happy gardening : )

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 7:10PM
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Hi mudster,
Chocolate Calcium has Vitamin-D in it.Plants as well as Human body can not absorb Calcium in absence of Vitamin-D.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:00PM
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Less watering will feed lesser Calcium to the plant ( soil becoming dry ) and too much watering will dilute the Calcium concentration ( too much water in the soil ) making lesser Calcium available for healthy growth of the fruit.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 12:07AM
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Tomato plants were fed twice by now with solution of Choco. chews and tums.BER is totally disappeared. All tomatoes are healthy ripening into nice red.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 2:34PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

... sigh ...

Here is a link that might be useful: Post hoc ergo propter hoc

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 2:42PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Good point Susan. ;)

Chaman - just because one event follows another event doesn't mean the first event is the CAUSE of the second event. As Susan's link points out that reasoning is one of the classical fallacies of logic right up there with

This is a horse.
This horse is brown.
Therefore, all horses are brown.

As has repeatedly been pointed out BER goes away all on its own as the plant matures. Your chocolate chews and TUMS had nothing to do with it. The age of the plant did. There are numerous scientific control studies to prove it.

But if it makes you feel better to feed your plants TUMS then by all means, feel free. Just don't make the claim to have found a cure for BER.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 3:52PM
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It is not the Tums or Choco. chocs..It was the Calcium that did the job.
There is nothing like claim declared any where in the post.
It is lack of enough water or too much water that creates the condition for lesser supply of Calcium to the plant assuming that there is enough Calcium in the soil.In my understanding it was the deficiency of Calcium in the soil that caused the BER.Tomato plants bear plenty of fruits that is the good reason that plants will need more Calcium as plant bears more and more fruits.
Calcium is the necessary ingredient for development of the fruit is an established scientific fact.
Your citation of Brown horse does not serve the purpose here.
Read all the postings in this thread.It will clear the concept of looking the same problem from different angles.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 4:35PM
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you didn't slip an egg in there under the tomatoes, did you?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 5:02PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

EggShells worked wonders for me one year...unfortunetly I decided to use Lime this year...but luckily on 1 plant alone.......I guess people are too lazy to try that out. What's the worse that can happen with eggshells?

Get a bunch and crush in a processor. Might take little more time than other methods but it's cheap, natural, and easy.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 5:10PM
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Chaman, at the end of the season I think you'll also be delighted to find that your tomatoes will have avoided developing osteoporosis!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 5:12PM
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No.I did not.But if you do,do it just before planting.And do not slip the whole egg.Use only egg-shell after grinding it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 5:15PM
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Tomatoes do not have bones.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 5:22PM
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They don't have teeth, either, but that didn't stop you from giving them calcium chews!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 7:43PM
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You know, actually, let me apologize for being flip, because even though it's fun, it's not very helpful.

This is the point I'm trying to make: A lot of novice, and even experienced gardeners come across this site when looking for helpful information. Blossom end rot is a common tomato problem, and most gardeners will encounter it at least once. They may end up here.

To gardeners who end up in this thread looking for information on how to control blossom end rot in tomatoes, please note that feeding chocolate calcium chews to your tomatoes is an expensive non-solution. If your blossom end rot clears up after that treatment, it was an expensive coincidence.

For good advice that might actually work, you'll want to read hoodat's or digdirt's comments in this thread.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 7:53PM
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Tomatoes were feed calcium chews dissolved in water.No need for teeth.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 9:05PM
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I was being facetious about the egg (I should know better!).

To clarify, I'm with the logical, evidence-based folks on this one. It's very rare for lack of soil calcium to be the issue with BER. BER often appears early in the season and goes away as the plant's root system becomes more extensive. The culprit with persistent BER is usually inconsistent watering. Also some varieties of tomatoes are just more susceptible to it (roma types).

So for any newbies out there who maybe can't afford health care for themselves in this recession, let alone a steady diet of Tums for their tomato plants, please don't give up, just water deeply and regularly (soil damp down a foot, one to two times a week depending on heat and humidity) and don't give up.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 9:36PM
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chinamigarden(z5 MI)

My son would never eat mushrooms as a kid. When he hit 16 he started to eat mushrooms, by the time he was 17 he started to shave.

Mushrooms made his whiskers grow.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 5:25PM
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