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How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Posted by macthayer z4 WI (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 19, 08 at 1:12

I have a friend -- not the same one as in the other message, if you read that one! -- who swears that she has a cure for blossom end rot on tomatoes (which of course is attributed to a lack of calcium). She says she saves up all her egg shells, and then the day before she plants her tomatoes, she "pulverizes" her egg shells in her food processor. She then uses this powder in the hole of each of the tomatoes she sets out. She swears this works because it adds the extra calcium to the soil. While I can believe that pulverizing the shells can AID in the breakdown of the nutrients into the soil, I find it hard to believe even this process is sufficient to allow a quick enough uptake of calcium when the plant is being stressed enough to cause blossom end rot. What do you think? And by the way, if you don't agree with her, do you have an amendment to suggest that would add more available calcium? Or perhaps it's a combination of amendments, as I know sometimes it takes the presence of one mineral/amendment before another can be utilized by the plant. Thanks in advance! MacThayer


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

I can't think of anything offhand that would provide more calcium than pulverized eggshells.

If the eggshells work so well, I'm curios why you want to find something better.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

The causes of Blossom End Rot are lack of Calcium at fruit set but why that lack of Ca has multiple causes. The Ca in egg shells probably will not be available for use by plants for quite some time, even if whizzed about in a blender, and I find that most often what ever people use to "cure" BER happens because they pay closer attention to the plants so the plants now grow in soils that are evenly moist so the plants can uptake and move through the plants vascular system the nitrients needed, as needed.
To prevent Blossom End Rot be sure your soil has well balanced nutrients, is well endowed with organic matter so the soil will be evenly moist but well drained, is well mulched to aid in maintaining that soil moisture as well as helping to control "weed" growth and keep the soil cool which also helps keep necessary nutrients moving through the plant. An evenly moist, but not overly wet soil, is the key to preventing BER.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 19, 08 at 10:06

Egg shells do not break down and supply calcium in the same season they're put in the soil, as I understand it.

This is the advice I got from a tomato aficionado two years ago and we haven't had BER since: if possible, fertilize/amend the soil where the plants will go, the year before you put them in, then nothing but a shot of liquid fert. at transplanting time. (If I hadn't amended the soil the year before I would mix very well-rotted compost or manure into the holes, early in the spring). Then mulch the plants well and keep evenly moist through the season. She said tomatoes are weeds, and to use 'tough love' as far as fertilizer goes - over-fertilizing literally spoils them.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

OK, so I can go back to crushing and tossing my egg shells into my composter without another thought! Good! Who needs one more thing to do at planting time? My beds are well amended with cow manure, and all I've done in the past is add a bit of organic fertilizer at planting time, and then mulch them thickly - both to prevent the dirt (and soil borne diseases) from getting onto the plants, and to keep them moist and warm. Sometimes I remember to add more organic fertilizer when they start to set fruit, and sometimes I don't. Honestly, it doesn't seem to matter. I have the most problem with blossom end rot when we have those early, heavy summer rains, and it sounds like there is nothing I can do to prevent that except be patient. So when my friend asks me if I put the egg shells in the hole, I will smile sweetly and say: "Yes, of course", but we'll all know the truth. There is no point to trying to tell her any different because she is always. . . . . right! MacThayer


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

The pH of your soil also plays an important role in blossom end rot. If the soil is too acidic, the plants can't use the calcium, no matter how much is present. The chart in the link below from Cornell shows the relationship of nutrient availability to soil pH. A soil test is a must for anybody having problems that might be the result of a nutrient deficiency. You can add calcium all you want but it might not do any good if the pH is too low (or in rare cases, too high.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Nutrient information


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

None as far as the plant is concerned.

It just makes the gardener feel better. ;)

Dave


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

If the soil has a low pH, it may also be low in calcium. If that's it, adding some lime overall would probably help the soil over the next few years. Bonemeal is also a good source of calcium, but all the sources of calcium that I know of should have been added to the soil at least last fall to do any good.

Just smile and nod.

Sue


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Mac, how well does your soil drain? A water saturated soil will cause the same problems in a garden as a too dry will because without air the roots of plants cannot uptake the needed nutrients from the soil.
What is the humus level of your soil?


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Hi Everyone Again. My Tomato beds are raised beds. Here in lower Wisconsin we have a real problem with clay soils in many areas, which my tomatoes did not like. So two years ago, we built two 12' X 12' X 12" high beds. I deliberately put them in an area where they would get full sun and where I'd previously had no problems with drainage/standing water. In other words, the soil beneath was less clay-like than in other areas. Then I had them filled with topsoil. This topsoil came from a farmer. He raises cows for milk, and on the side, he builds up compost piles from the bedding in his barns, mixes in some dirt, and then lets it bake until done. This gives him a little "side business" -- he sells topsoil to the local landscapers. When I got the soil, it was a rich black, crumbly, and there was no evidence of any leftover bedding. I think that means I have adequate humus levels. What do you think Dave? My tomatoes grew like weeds (except for occasional problems with blossom end rot). Still, I harvested so many tomatoes last year that I canned almost 100 quart jars, ate all I could, and gave many away -- I'd call that a pretty good harvest! I have never had a problem with standing water in either bed, even with the worst rains. I do add compost to the top at the end of each season. However, Sue, your point is well taken about the pH. I have never checked it, and perhaps now would be a good time. Just having "good dirt" isn't all a plant needs! Thanks for for insightful thought. MacThayer


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Look at it this way: If you're adding your eggshells to your compost pile regularly, and then using that compost for growing the tomatoes, you're still adding the calcium to the planting hole - you're just doing it earlier, so it has a chance to break down in the compost into a form accessible to the plants, and you're also distributing it evenly throughout the soil. If you just put the eggshells in the planting hole, the roots will have extended far beyond that thin layer by the time the plant needs the calcium. Plus, I'm sure tomatoes aren't the only thing that can use a little calcium now and again.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

get some blossom end rot spray from lowes. it cost about $6.00 than take a layer of finely ground egg shells and put it 2 inches below the layer of soil and water regularly. works wonders especially on topsy turvey tomatoes!


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 13:33

I compost egg shell, it can not hurt & they are not in the landfill. I agree that it takes some time to break down & may not help the plant in that form.
You would do better with Gypsum,Azomite.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Blossom end rot (BER) is not a disease in the sense that it's caused by bacteria, a fungus or virus, so it's not something we can just 'treat' and expect it to go away. It's probably more realistic to look at BER as an inherent issue that arises during periods of rapid growth when the plant is simply unable to acquire enough Ca to satisfy cellular needs.

Almost all of us know what BER is, and that it really has nothing to do with blossoms. It simply occurs on the 'blossom end' of the fruit. There are sooo many reasons offered as to why BER occurs that it's difficult to count them. Too wet, too dry, uneven watering, too much N, humidity, temperature ..... have all been supposed to cause BER.

Rather than me taking the time to type out what I believe the best assessment of BER I have read, and I'm sure a large part of that is it agrees with what I've observed, is this offering I've copy/pasted from an article by Carolyn J. Male, Ph.D., a retired professor of microbiology from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York.

".... the rapid plant growth and nitrogen fertilization are both common to conditions seen early in the season, and indeed, that is when most BER occurs. Then it usually just goes away.

BER occurs because under the conditions just stated, Ca++ moves from the fruit into the vasculature (stems) of the plant. Or, some feel that Ca++ never reaches the fruits because under stress demand for Ca++ exceeds supply. This lowered amount of Ca++ is what causes BER. Excessive rates of transpiration (kind of like sweating in humans) also is involved in Ca++ displacement. Thus, the plant as a whole is NOT Ca++ deficient, the Ca++ has just been displaced. Many books and magazine articles tell you that by adding Ca++ in the form of lime or eggshells, for instance, that you can prevent BER. That does NOT appear to be true. University field trial experiments have so far failed to show that BER can be prevented by addition of Ca++. Peppers and many cole crops are also susceptible to BER and there's quite a bit of literature on BER and Ca++ for those crops also. The results are the same; addition of Ca++ does not prevent BER.

Some data strongly suggests that foliar spraying with Ca++ is of no use because not enough gets to the fruits to do any good. And it's known that the sprays for fruits that are sold are useless. No molecules can get across the fruit epidermis. If they did, just what do you think would happen to the fruits when it rained.

Not all varieties of tomatoes get BER. Some never do, others are horrible. That's not surprising since certainly there are slight physiological differences between varieties. After all, almost all garden tomatoes, with the exception of the currant tomatoes are in the same genus and species, Lycopersicon lycopersicum. And we humans are all in the same species, Homo sapiens, var. sapiens....and look how different some of our physiologies are. Whoa!

So, BER is a physiological condition, cannot be cured, and current literature data suggests it cannot be prevented. It occurs on some, but not all varieties of tomatoes, is usually seen early in the season and then stops, for most folks. It would be nice to say that you could even out your watering, prevent droughts and heavy rainfalls, ensure even and not rapid growth of plants and not disturb the roots by shallow cultivating. But on a practical basis, I think we all know that's almost impossible. So, BER has never bothered me, I just ignore it, and it goes away with time.

Adding Ca++ to soils that are Ca++ deficient makes sense, but few soils are. And if soils are acidic, Ca++ is not taken up well but addition of Epsom Salts to the soil can aid in Ca++ uptake in such acidic soils.

Many folks add Ca++ and then see that BER disappears. What they fail to realize is that BER is going to go away anyway, as the season progresses. And that's because as the plants get larger they are better able to handle the many stresses that can induce it. So one cannot correlate addition of Ca++ to disappearance of BER. Universities have done so many studies on this already because BER is a billion dollar problem in the commercial veggie industry.

Of all the stresses that can induce BER the two that are most under control of the home gardener are fertilization and water delivery. That is, too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too rapidly and is perhaps one of the major causes of BER developing. Too rich soils do the same thing. Plant growth simply outstrips the ability of Ca++ to get to the fruits.

Mulching to help ensure even delivery of water can also be done and is also one of the two major causes, in my humble opinion, of BER. BER appears usually on half ripe fruits but also can appear on grass green ones. Lack of Ca++ only occurs at the blossom end of the fruit and it causes tissue destruction which leads to that papery grayish/blackish lesion appearing. Now sometimes that lesion opens up and fungi and bacteria enter and that causes the rotting and also the appearance of fungal growth on and in the lesion.

Just pick off any BER fruits that appear and soon the next fruits to ripen will BER-less.

Many books, magazine articles and websites still say to add Ca++ as lime, eggshells, etc, and seem not to be aware of all the research that has been done in the last 20 years. But many books, magazine articles, are now sharing this newer information about addition of Ca++ not being able to either prevent or cure BER except in rare situations of low Ca++ soils or acidic soils.

I suppose it will take another generation for the right information to be present everywhere. And from my own experience I can tell you that there will be folks who will get madder than can be when they read this kind of info because they simply believe otherwise. So be it. Addition of modest amounts of Ca++ aren't' harmful, but I feel strongly that folks should know what's going on with past and current research re BER and Ca++."

Al


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

AL said : Many folks add Ca++ and then see that BER disappears. What they fail to realize is that BER is going to go away anyway, as the season progresses.

That's funny... sounds like my wife... she said "peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a cure for poison oak rashes"

ie... because she ate one and lo and behold, the rashes started going away within a few days ;-)


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 17:40

Another generation???!!!
I have a book that is 37 years old, that says the same thing you are saying. The soil needs a balance, that is why I said Azomite, it has 60 trace minerals & elements. I never had BER & I had 60 tomatoes last year. I have always used lime,Epsom salt,with a good compost.
A sudden change in soil moisture, can cause it also, but I mulch to save 20-30% moisture lost, so that is never a problem. The term is Physiological Disorder.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 17:52

It sounds like Mrs. Hughes is laughing at those who are eager to too hastily attribute a particular cause to a particular effect. I often find myself in debates with growers who are committing logic errors (and they don't always appreciate it when they are pointed out). ;o) Here, I'm referring specifically to the errors of 'Questionable Cause' or 'Confusing Cause and Effect'.

Here's an example of the logical error I'm talking about, which mirrors what your wife is saying:

Your friend Joe is scratched by a cat while visiting another friend. Two days later he comes down with a fever, then dies. You conclude he died from 'cat scratch fever', never stopping to consider that it could have been any one of hundreds of other maladies.

This is the most common logical error to be found in the forums. I'm not talking about just BER now, I'm saying that I see dozens of posts every week where either the observation or the advice hinge on logical fallacies - causes attributed to impossible effects, and advice that if implemented, would be an exercise in futility because it can't be logically connected to the problem.

Appealing to common practice ('everybody else is doing it so it must be right'; or 'I've always done it this way, and it works for me, so it must be the best/a good approach) is another oft seen error. Probably the best way to answer that one is 'Things change. Habits are first cobwebs, then chains. Often, as people find themselves clinging tightly to 'what works for me' they lose the ability to retain the perspective that something else just might work better, only to then find themselves standing in the slipstream of others less rigid.'

Just me musing ......

Al


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Very good, Al

I have found that the first tomato usually is cat-faced and no good. Then they are ok.

In my late tomatoes in 2009, they kept getting BER or something and then they got or evolved into some kind of blight...maybe late blight? Still, they didn't have all the classic symptoms though.


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

Oh no Al, please don't apply logic or science, they just confuse the issue, well written, thank you. A good practice to use to determine what is causing BER is observation since it commonly occurs under particular conditions as elaborated above. 1) get your soil tested to eliminate those possiblilties. 2) observe and record the weather and soil moisture at the plant's rooting depth and record it. 3) while doing #2, go out and observe the fruit all the way up the plant to see when the BER is showing up and note it. In time, over years at most, you will be able to look at your observations and begin to understand when BER occurs and most likely why. The reason for all the records is to be able to look for trends form year to year, few people are able to remember so much info. accurately over a long time.

Just a start


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RE: How Much Calcium Can You Get From Crushed Eggs?

When Good Tomatoes Go Bad
by Charlie Nardozzi

Finally, it's time to enjoy the results of weeks of pampering young tomato
plants. However, nothing is more frustrating after so much effort than
seeing misshapen or rotten fruits on the vines. It's easy to blame pests or
diseases, but the weather, the tomato variety, or even your gardening
practices may be the actual cause.

To help you identify what's spoiling your tomatoes, we've compiled a list of
eight of the most common tomato fruit problems not caused by insect or
disease. You can do something about most of these problems now, so the next
cluster of tomatoes on your plants could be perfect. We also include
suggestions for resistant varieties to plant next year.

But first, here are the three basic steps for growing healthy, perfect
tomatoes:

Supply and conserve water. Tomato plants need 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water a
week from either rain or irrigation. Often the problem is not the amount of
water, but sudden changes in soil-moisture levels. To conserve moisture,
mulch plants with a 4- to 6-inch layer of hay or straw.

Keep plants warm, but not hot. In early summer, protect young plants from
cold temperatures by covering them, especially at night. Conversely, in mid-
to late summer, protect plants (especially fruits) from high temperatures
with afternoon shade.

Feed carefully and avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers. Two weeks before
planting, work in a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost, then fertilize the plants
with a complete fertilizer (5-10-10) at the rates recommended on the label.
Side-dress your tomatoes monthly with a complete fertilizer.

Click on the following link for the rest of the article:
http://doityourself.com/vegetables/whengoodtomatoesgobad.htm
Eight Avoidable Tomato Problems
These stresses have sent many befuddled gardeners looking for a pest or disease. Tomato experts call the stresses physiological problems, meaning the cause has to do with the functioning of the plant itself, not with any outside agent.
Blossom-End Rot
What it looks like: Brown-black sunken areas appear on the blossom end of green or ripening fruit.

Causes: Insufficient calcium levels in the developing fruit cause the cells in the blossom end to break down. Though insufficient levels of calcium in the soil may be the cause, it is more likely fluctuating moisture levels. This is why it is important to apply a mulch. Water transports calcium through the plant. With insufficient water, calcium doesn't move quickly enough to the fruits. As little as 30 minutes of water deficiency at any time can cause blossom-end rot.

These other factors contribute but are all ultimately connected to calcium availability in the developing fruit: excess nitrogen fertilization, high soil salinity, waterlogged soils, root damage during cultivation, and soil pH that's too low or too high. Blossom-end rot occurs most often on the first fruit clusters, when the plant grows quickly and demands calcium for leaf growth.

What to do: Pick and destroy rotten fruits, keep the soil pH around 6.5, reduce nitrogen fertilization, and apply a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 (1/2 cup per 10-foot row) once early in the growing season. Also, mulch early in the season with a 4- to 6-inch layer of hay or straw. Apply at least 1 1/2 inches of water a week, and avoid growing susceptible older indeterminates (vining tomatoes) such as 'Beefsteak' and both determinate and indeterminate varieties of plum tomatoes ('Roma' is one example).
Blotchy Ripening (graywall)
What it looks like: First you see light green or clear blotches on green fruit. These patches gradually turn yellow, and the tomato doesn't ripen evenly. Often, the tomato is rotten inside.

Causes: Graywall is most often caused by shade and cool temperatures followed by bright, sunny weather. Excessive foliage growth also causes it, so the most vigorous indeterminate tomato varieties are the most susceptible. But other factors promote graywall. For instance, it occurs more often in plants growing in soggy soils, and diseases like tobacco mosaic virus may indirectly cause this condition.

What to do: Grow determinate bush varieties that allow sunlight through the leaf canopy. Decrease nitrogen fertilizer, and increase potassium. Stake or cage plants to allow sufficient light to reach the fruit.
Catfacing
What it looks like: Misshapen fruit has black scarred areas on the blossom end that often rot.

Causes: Catfacing happens when flowers don't develop properly. The most common cause is low temperatures (below 65oF during the day and 55oF at night) three weeks before flowers open. High wind on plants with little foliage can also damage blossoms. Although a common problem on the first fruit clusters, it disappears when temperatures rise. But it may recur if the plants are still setting fruit as temperatures drop in the autumn. Larger and older varieties such as 'Beefsteak' are more susceptible to catfacing.

What to do: Grow the plants when temperatures are high during pollination by planting later in the season and protecting transplants from cold and wind with plastic cloches or floating row covers.

What to do: To avoid catfacing next year, grow modern hybrid varieties that are much less likely than older ones to be bothered by low temperatures and don't prune off the foliage.
Fruit Cracks
What it looks like: When ripening, fruits crack around the stem end and along the sides, and the fruit rots. Cracks may be radial or concentric.

Causes: Abruptly alternating wet and dry periods cause cracking. When the plant takes up deep drinks of moisture after a dry spell, the fruit cells expand too fast and burst, and the skin cracks. (Heavy dew worsens cracking because the fruit can take water in through the skin.) The soft-fruited 'Celebrity' and cherry tomato 'Sweet 100' are particularly prone to cracking. Too much nitrogen in the soil also contributes to the problem. Green fruits usually don't crack because they're harder and can't expand as fast, and their skin cells are stronger.

What to do: Keep the soil evenly moist, especially during ripening, with a 4- to 6-inch mulch of hay or straw. Don't overfertilize. If maintaining soil moisture is difficult in your area, plant less-susceptible varieties next year. 'Mountain Spring' and 'Mountain Belle' (a cherry tomato) are good options.
Green (or yellow) Shoulders
What it looks like: The "shoulders" on the tomato's stem end stay green (or yellow) and hard as the rest of the fruit ripens.

Cause: Normally chlorophyll breaks down as the fruit ripens. However, in some varieties, during periods of high temperatures and direct sun exposure, the chlorophyll does not break down, or does so too slowly.

What to do: This problem is most common in heirloom varieties that happen to lack the gene for uniform ripening. Most modern hybrids have this gene and rarely develop green shoulders. However, if you want to grow the older, susceptible varieties, minimize green shoulders by maintaining good foliage cover and picking the tomatoes when they're entirely green to ripen indoors, away from exposure to direct sun.
Puffiness
What it looks like: Fruits lack internal jelly and have a hollow or "puffy" feel.

Causes: Puffiness is caused by incomplete pollination, which in turn is most commonly caused by temperatures that are too high or too low. (Tomatoes are almost completely self-pollinating, so pollinating insects aren't a factor.) Whenever nighttime temperatures drop below 55oF or daytime temperatures rise above 100oF, seed doesn't set properly. Improper pollination prevents the jelly of the inside fruit chamber from developing. Also, too much nitrogen or too little potassium in the soil causes poor pollen formation, leading to puffiness.

What to do: Set plants out once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55oF, or protect young transplants from cold with a floating row cover. In hot climates, use shadecloth to keep plants cool. Protect them from hot winds. Reduce nitrogen fertilization, and test soil to check potassium levels. Next year, plant resistant varieties, such as 'Celebrity' and 'Better Boy', which are less likely to develop the problem under any circumstances.
Sunscald
What it looks like: The fruit has lighter-colored leathery patches, and fruit usually rots.

Cause: This discoloration is like a sunburn. Fruits exposed either suddenly or continually to hot sun develop sunscald, which is most likely to occur on varieties that don't produce enough leaves.

What to do: Avoid pruning leaves or stems while the fruit is ripening, and consider shading the fruit. A small section of shadecloth or row cover would suffice. Finally, try to reduce the severity of leaf diseases such as early and late blight, common fungal diseases. If you live where summers are sunny and hot, grow indeterminate varieties that produce a thick cover of shading leaves. Examples are 'Jet Star', and 'Big Beef'.
Zippering
What it looks like: This problem is aptly named because it looks just like a zipper running from top to bottom on the skin of the fruit. It's disfiguring, but the fruit can still develop properly.

Cause: Temperatures below 55oF when flowers are dropping off the young fruit cause this condition. Zippering can occur at higher temperatures, too. Some varieties, such as 'Mountain Spring' and 'Mountain Pride', are genetically predisposed to the problem. Others, such as 'Big Beef', are not.

What to do: Cover young transplants with floating row covers to reduce the chances of cold damage to young fruit. Next year, plant a resistant variety such as 'Big Beef'.

Charlie Nardozzi is a senior horticulturist at National Gardening.


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