It's nearing the end of July here in Middle Tennessee and tomatoes and cucumbers are at peak production! Peppers are coming in this season as hot as the weather and many gardeners here have had their fill of the heat!
While we all patiently (or impatiently) wait for Fall, it's now time to start planning and sowing your cool-season crops. These include many leafy greens and brassicas that can be planted now for harvest in late fall - early winter. One of the great things about our mild winters is that we can grow crops all throughout the year. So if you're like me, (with a little help from frost cloth) I will continue my gardening throughout the winter months into spring!
Seed indoors (transplant)
There is much left to do in the garden! Don't forget as you transition your gardens from summer to fall, remember to replenish your soil by adding a few inches of organic compost.
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One of my most asked about questions throughout the summer months of gardening is the issue of Blossom End Rot.
Blossom End Rot or BER for short, is a condition where the cells in fruits such as tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, etc. begin to die leaving behind an unsightly brown/black spot on the fruit. Many first time gardeners first assumption is to think that they have a disease or an insect issue but fortunately that is NOT the case here. It's also NOT an issue of lack of calcium either!
Yes, calcium is responsible for the formation of cells within the fruit and yes there is an issue of consumption of calcium related to BER however, it is not a LACK of calcium necessarily. In fact, in most cases the main culprit is WATER!
No matter how much fertilizer you give your fruiting plants, if they are not getting the proper amount of water, the calcium that is needed will not make it to the fruit sets. This is why we see this issue begin to surface as the warmer days begin.
Fortunately, this doesn't mean your plant is doomed for the season! In most cases the issue fixes itself and the plant goes on to produce fine for the remainder of the season. If you see this in your garden, remove the bad fruit so that the plant can begin focusing its nutrients and energy toward new fruit. Make sure to check plants often and keep soil moist, especially in raised containers.
There is not a magic bullet that will solve Blossom End Rot. The best thing we can do as gardeners is give our plants a good supply of nutrient rich soil and water regularly. Adding a layer of compost before each seasons planting is also something we practice with our clients to help insure the nutrients are available to feed the plants!