Growing Things: How to tackle blossom end rot and remove slugs from the garden

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The plant needs calcium to develop fruit properly, and that calcium is dissolved in soil water. If water is lacking then so is the calcium. Thus, you can have a calcium deficiency and yet have a good source of calcium in the soil. You can test your soil to make sure you don’t have a calcium deficiency. Simple soil test kits are available in most garden centres.

Rapidly growing plants are more prone to the problem because fast growth requires an abundant supply of water and calcium. Also, excess nitrogen can contribute to the problem by excessively speeding up growth.

Transplanting tomatoes into cold soil may also contribute to calcium deficiency because the organisms that convert calcium into a usable form are not as active in cold soils. Also, keep in mind that cultivating deeply around tomatoes can damage roots and cause a lack of water and calcium uptake.

Here are some tips to avoid blossom end rot:

– Keep soil moist but not sopping wet. Excess water is just as bad as not enough.

– Mulching will help maintain even soil moisture.

– Shallow, frequent cultivation is best.

– Make sure to have an adequate, but not excessive, level of nitrogen.

I have to share this e-mail I received:

“You have written several columns on slugs, but I have never seen you mention actually catching them and disposing of these slimy creatures. The method I use is quick, clean, and easy. The best time to catch them is after a rain, early on a dewy morning, or later in the evening. I use my ‘super duper slug scooper’ (also known as a spoon, preferably a tablespoon) and scoop them up and put them in an empty yogurt container (other containers with a lid will also work).

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