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Stop the Rot: End Rot Stops Here!

End rot on tomato, squash, zucchini and cucumber is a common problem in gardens. I know when I began gardening end rot on my favorite veggies was so frustrating. End rot begins on the fruit as soon as they start growing and sometimes once they are a little more developed. I would get so excited about my fruit growing, and then BOOM the rot would set in. So, I began researching the cause and the cures. I even talked to the local feed store to ask if they had suggestions on how to treat the problem. What I found out is that end rot is caused by calcium deficiency. I read an article that said calcium deficiency is caused when the calcium is not making to the growing tip of the fruit. Therefore adding calcium to soil will help the tissue of the fruit to healthier and stronger, therefore not rotting. Now end rot looks different on each fruit. Black spots form on the bottom of tomatoes, but with squash, zucchini and cucumbers will turn brown and often fuzzy on the flower end. The deficiency manifest itself different. Here is a picture of end rot on zucchini and squash.

I found that lime is a perfect way to add calcium to my garden to help fight the end rot problem. Now, how do I add it? pour it on the ground? powdered or pelletized? add water? I read many different strategies. Over the years, I tried all the above. It may just be a person's preference. I am going to share my experiences and pictures of how I treat for end rot and the method that works the fastest.

Pelletized lime and powdered lime both equally work. Pelletized lime is less messy than powdered. So, many people choose this type over powdered. I've used both. I tend to use powdered because I can buy larger bags, and I've found powdered lime is easier to find at any store. The local feed store carries pelletized but other stores don't always have it. I am going to discuss applying powdered lime. I have applied lime to two different ways. Both methods have worked equally the same in my experience. The first method is to apply by pouring the powder straight on the dirt below the plant (tomato, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers). These are the plants i use this method on. Once I pour powdered lime at the base of the plant, I water it into the ground. It dissolves and soaks into the ground.

The second method is to mix the powdered lime with water. I use a jar, but you can mix more up with a watering can. I've always heard that you can't lime to much in Arkansas. I think this is because of our pour soil in places. Now, I don't know if that is a fact, but I have found that I've never had a problem with the amount I add, except when I haven't added enough. Once I mix pour water into the lime, I stir it up and then pour it at the base of the plant. The mixture should be the consistency of milk, very runny. See the pictures below on this method.

One thing I didn't mention is I pull off all the bad fruit/veggies. This can happen at any point, before or after treating with lime, but they need to be pulled/cut off. What I have found after treating the end rot is that within a week give or take the fruit begins to develop healthy. You may need to continue for that following week pulling off damaged produce. It begins to lessen till it stops. Then the production seems to increase. Now to try and prevent end rot, I pre-treat before it begins. This is helpful, but not always 100%. I will throw lime around my plants every 3 weeks or so. The hot weather messes with the PH of dirt (honestly, I'm not totally sure how. I'll leave that to the professional). What I do know is, I have been gardening for years and what I'm sharing is from a gardener that has experienced the problems and the successes after using lime to help with end rot. It's all hands on experience, some good some bad. Hopefully this has helped. It is so hot this summer so be on the lookout for end rot and buy some lime. You will be happy you did.

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