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BER...Blossom End Rot review..

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BER...Blossom End Rot review..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 9/6/2011, 5:32 pm

What is it?

As we know, Blossom End Rot (BER) is a deficiency in calcium uptake by a rapidly growing, fruiting plant. It is not a disease. It is not contagious. It does not spread from plant to plant or fruit to fruit. Lesions develop on the bottom of a fruit, usually the first fruits of the season, when they are about 1/3 to 1/2 their finished size...but may strike at any time. Infamous for frustrating tomato gardeners, BER also strikes peppers, squashes, and eggplants among others.

What causes it?

Usually a calcium deficiency of some kind (in the soil or the plant's ability to absorb calcium from the soil). BUT, other factors contribute to BER. Anything affecting the uptake of water or minerals/nutrients can bring on BER.

How do I prevent it?

- Water consistently. Mel states you CANNOT overwater your Mel's Mix (MM). Take him up on it! Don't ever let your MM dry out. BER strikes commonly when sudden drought hits as your plants are fruiting.

- Mulch. Adding mulches reduce evaporation and help keep soils uniformly moist.

- Lightly cultivate. Heavy hoeing or digging near the plants can cut feeder roots and eliminate vital resources your plant was using to absorb nutrients.

- Check your compost. If making your own, are you adding eggshells or oystershells? These are high sources of calcium and will certainly help any deficiency.

- Add bone meal, composted manures or other calcium rich amendments. These take time to work, though, and likely need to be added early.

- Let your soil warm up in spring. Planting in soil that is still too cool can affect the plant's ability to absorb water/nutrients and lead to BER.

- Don't fertilize heavily. SFG is an intense gardening method and a lot of us have trouble resisting the urge to give our plants a little boost now and then. While likely "ok" (albeit unnecessary), fertilizing too often will load the soil with salts that work against the plant's ability to absorb water. Reverse osmosis will obviously lead to BER if too severe and even cause the plant to "burn" like your grass when you spill fertilizers high in soluble salts.

Before blaming your issue on BER, check to rule out another possible cause. BER can be easily confused with something as simple as inadequate, or too much, moisture.

You can likely see why Mel believes SFG greatly diminishes, or completely eliminates, the chances of BER attacking your plants. We don't need to add amendments. That reduces the chances of adding salts. We weed with our fingers, reducing the chances of affecting feeder roots. We have the nutrients in our soils already present thanks to varied composts. And, we water frequently enough to keep the peat moss from drying out....yet can't overwater our MM because the excess drains right out.

If you've had BER affect your plants, I would suggest looking at possible factors...or, possibly where you went wrong in assembling your MM. I'm not saying it isn't possible. I'm saying Mel put together a growing medium that drastically reduces our chances of ever seeing the problem strike our gardens.


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