Tomato Woes

Every year I look forward to vine-ripened tomatoes.
Starting in the fall, I carefully save seeds from my heirloom tomatoes, plant them in February in my greenhouse, and baby them until it’s warm enough to plant.
I also start saving my eggshells in the winter so I can throw a handful in each hole when I plant in the ground.
Much to my dismay, this year’s first crop of tomatoes have looked like this.
tomato blossom end rot
This is called blossom end rot.  It’s caused by a few things happening in the soil and nature.
*Lack of calcium in the soil (which is why I always throw a handful of eggshells in each hole) Liquid calcium products are also available in garden sections and can be a quick fix for this problem.  I decided not to do this as I think it was due to the next 2 problems.
*Either really wet or really dry soil.  Mulching helps balance this out but unfortunately I didn’t get around to it this year. We did have some extreme wet conditions in early spring followed by dry spells and then days of rain again.  When tomato plants grow quickly due to rain and then set fruit when it’s dry, blossom end rot visits your tomatoes.
*Too much nitrogen.  This is not usually a problem for me as my garden is almost always lacking nitrogen.  I know this because I send soil samples to be tested almost every year. (this is a free service for me through our county extension office).  I try to combat this by planting a cover crop in the fall and tilling it in the spring.  This year, though, I cleaned out my chicken coop and tossed all the old shavings on the garden.  Chicken litter is used routinely on pastures in my area for fertilizer and  I’m thinking I might have overdone it.  Oops. You know the old saying, if a little is good, a lot must be better?   I guess I had that mentality that day.
*pH too high or low, and also high salt content of the soil can also be a factor in rot. Again, a soil test can give you all of these answers.  I prefer to send in a sample to be tested, but I’ve also seen kits at garden supply stores that can give you this info as well.
All is not lost though.  The tomatoes with blossom end rot went to the chickens and my tomato plants are almost 5 ft. tall and loaded with fruit.

tomato plants
The tomato jungle
Here’s hoping my days of blossom end rot are over and I can enjoy a juicy tomato soon.
Hope your gardens are growing well!