Harvest / What's going on with my tomatoes?
Daniel Oles of Promised Land CSA
Photos by Stephen Gabris
Tomatoes with rotten bottoms:
When did your tomatoes form blossoms? Early birds might have planted them in May so they blossomed during extremely wet weeks. Others bought and planted plants with blossoms on them, just when temps reached the nineties in June. Timing made a difference, especially this year. The blossom time is when tomato plants, among others, determine what the fruits will be like. The blossom governs the results. The wrong growing conditions at blossom time produces the equivalent of birth defects.
If you see blossom-end rot or cat-facing on your tomatoes, it is not a matter of rotting in the soil. The damage comes from within. It was caused by too much water or too little water when the blossoms were forming on the plants. (You may read that it is caused by a lack of calcium—true. But it’s because the water couldn’t conduct the calcium the plant needed; it’s not necessarily a lack of calcium in your soil.) You cannot correct blossom-end “rot,” but you can cut it out and eat the fruit—or you may be lucky enough to have lots of other tomatoes whose blossoms developed when you or natural rainfall provided just what they needed.
Anthracnose, also called “fungal leaf spot,” is completely predictable after a rainy spring. It’s spread by wind and rain splashing onto plant leaves. It produces wet leaf spots on squashes and pumpkins and sunken lesions on their fruits. Tomatoes show quarter-inch sunken spots and get mushy and rotten inside. Beans get dark veins under the leaves. Some plants show pink spore masses or ooze. It’s all from a wet, wet spring.