Pay no attention to the Misinformation Corps – your tomatos are calcium challenged

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I have a couple of tomato plants and some small tomatoes. Several are getting ripe and when I looked at them, there is only half a tomato. The bottom half is just missing. The bottom where the tomato ends is black and like leather. But the top is getting ripe. I was told it was a disease but how do I treat it? They said it was hopeless.
The first thing to do is to forget that disease stuff. There are many people who want to be helpful but have no knowledge and like to talk. This is who told you about this supposed disease. Every neighborhood has at least three members in the Misinformation Corps.

Your tomato problem is called blossom end rot. This is also a basic description of what you are seeing. It is what is termed a physiological problem. It was created by certain environmental conditions. It has to do with a lack of water or irregular watering for the plant. It is technically described as a lack of calcium. But the real reason is that there is not enough water to transport the dissolved calcium to the end of the fruit. And without the water and the calcium, the fruit stops here.

Check how much and how deeply you are watering. The tomato roots should be at least 12 inches deep and probably much more than 1 foot wide on each side of the plant. All that area needs to be damp. The soil should feel like a squeezed out sponge or a rung-out wash cloth. It feels damp as well as cool.

If the tomatoes are in a container, it has to do with not enough soil to hold moisture in comparison to roots. Another distant possibility for blossom end rot is that the root system has not grown large enough because of a lack of phosphorus or potash in the soil. But a soil test would determine that.

But right now, put the hose on the ground and let it soak but do it all the way around the plant. Check the next day and see how deeply the water sunk into the soil.

What happened to the top of my blue spruce? That tall thing in the middle of the tree like a leader is tan and curled over. What do I spray to save the top? I love this tree.
You didn’t love it enough to protect it from white pine weevil. Friends don’t let friends loose their leaders to an insect. The white pine weevil mommy was there, laying eggs on the leader in late April. The eggs hatched and the kiddies chewed up the new leader in the ensuing months.

The time to spray your spruce would have been the second week in April. That spray protects the leader from weevil mothers loaded with eggs. The product to use contains cyfluthrin. That product can be found in Bayer Advanced Garden Multi Insect Killer. That will be next spring’s mission of love to the tree. Spray and protect the leaders on all of your spruces and pines.

The only pine that does not seem to have much of a problem is Scotch pine. But if you have one and have the spray handy, do it just because you love it, too.

Right now, the job is to cut out the dead leader and to burn it or bury it. Once the weevil larvae damage upwards, they can also damage downwards and kill that sideward growing ring of branches called the whorl. Your damage can get worse but by removing the dead leader, it stops the damage. You also need to create a new leader for the tree.

Left on its own, the tree could create three or four leaders and that will make problems for the tree in the future. There’s information available to do this. But if the tree is 30 or more feet tall, it may be almost impossible because of its height.

About Gretchen Voyle 51 Articles

Gretchen Voyle is the MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture Educator. She can be reached at (517) 546-3950.