blm
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Location: PA

Opinions On MY Problem???

I have a problem with my vegetable garden which I will attempt to explain fully. I live in suburban Pittsburgh. I moved into my place 20 years ago when the development was just being built. This is one of those places where they come in and strip every living thing off the face of the Earth before beginning building. In addition where my garden is located the soil has huge submerged rocks throughout. So when I started my garden , shortly after moving here, I constructed a raised bed out of 2 x 12 lumber and filled that with good quality soil. My garden is quite small being 10ft X 12ft.
The garden consists mostly of Tomatoes, Peppers. Occasionally I plant a Zucchini or Bush Cucumber. My problems are as follows. Blossom end rot on the Tomatoes,low yield on Tomatoes and Peppers and small fruit on both. I am getting Beefstake and Big Boy Tomatoes that are the size of golf balls. I have added aged Horse manure,Miracle Grow,Epson Salts,Lime,Etc. At one point I had the Nitrogen high enough that the Tomatoes plants were dark green and very full with foliage. I have researched blossom end rot and definitely don't have a Nitrogen deficiency and practice regular watering. I have had my soil tested two or three times and came back pretty normal every time, not lacking steeply in any of the components.
The first few years I planted the Garden everything was fine. After a couple years these problems started. At one point I covered the entire thing with black plastic for an entire year. The following season I had mediocre results. The season after that I was right back to my troubles.
I realize my garden is quite small so it really doesn't allow for very thorough crop rotation. I have tried to plant at opposite ends but the size of the garden limits this action. I would really like to continue my vegetable garden as I look forward to it each year but with the yield I am getting at present it is either fix it or give it up. Any suggestions on how to rectify my situation would be appreciated.

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hendi_alex
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Blossom end rot is always related to calcium deficiency. Many things can contribute to the problem. For tomatoes, generally there is not enough calcium (lime) in the soil or the tomatoes are not getting a steady supply of moisture. I would suggest adding a small handfull of pelletized lime to the planting hole of your tomatoes and also consider setting up drip irrigation so that the plants get a steady but moderate supply of water.

The times that my plants have experienced blossom end rot usually fall into three categories.

Planted in containers in synthetic soil. I suspect irregular supply of water and low calcium to have been the problem.

Planted in a very poor, sandy location. Once again, low calcium and irregular water as the plants are constantly moving from wet when watered to nearly dry before the next watering. IMO the plants want even moisture, not the wild gyrations that they experience in such a location.

Planted in a block that had been enriched with large amounts of on half baked compost. There I suspect an acid spike, decrease in available nitrogen, and perhaps irregular supply of water as well.

You can try one of those foliar calcium sprays, but my inclination would be to try the added calcium in the hole while focusing on keeping the water from swinging between extremes.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

tomhath
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Location: South Central PA

Have you tested the pH recently? It does sound like it's on the low side. That ties up all the other nutrients so adding fertilizer won't help.

mswindham
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Location: louisiana

Garden tomatoe problem

Hello,I'm a pretty good gardner but Alex sounds like he know's his stuff but I'll tell you what I've experienced...Every time I use miracle grow,something goes wrong.I'm not saying not to use it becuz I hear lots of folks brag on it.It most definitely makes a good looking plant but no fruit for me.It may be that I'm doing sumpin wrong.Just a thought that may help but I'd try what Alex said first because he's apparently been there & I haven't,(SO FAR).This may be the year but the moisture is a BIG deal with tomatoes.Sure hope this gives some insight on fruit bearing.As far as the rot on blossoms,NO CLUE> Have a good year & I hope you he most bestest!! Mark

mswindham
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tomatoe problem

Also,How deep are the rocks under your soil? You may have better soil in the yard than in the box if you can manage to till deep enuff .We'll learn this together from Alex the Ace in the hole!LOL.

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hendi_alex
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Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I've got a lot of experience and also a good dose of common sense. Sometimes am overconfident when relying on common sense to solve problems however. My response on this thread is a combination of experience and common sense, blended with a bit of speculation. As others have noted on these boards, always pay attention to the source of info, and also try to make a distinction between knowledge based content versus speculation/best guess/hypothesis types of content.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

blm
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Location: PA

Thanks for the advice. I had added lime last season but still got the blossom end rot. I did just spread it on the soil before planting and worked it in with a rake. I had added a liitle more than the coverage recommended on the bag but I believe those quanities were for a lawn. The suggestion here from what I understand is to add a handful directly the the planting hole. Any ideas on the low yield and small fruit? Could that also be connected to the low calcium?

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