Tomato rot significantly relates to a severe shortage of Calcium in tomato plants for the development of fresh and healthy fruiting season of your tomato plants. No wonder that more and more vegetable rot cases for hobbyist gardeners have a connection to the significant shortage of calcium which is important in plants.
Lack of a steady supply of essential calcium in plants leads to a condition called blossom end rot. This condition is visible, those dark, sunken spots that occur at the end of your tomatoes. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that the plants have enough calcium content. But what is a good source of calcium for tomato plants that are at risk of calcium deficiency?
There are so many sources of calcium namely: gypsum, powdered lime, water, fertilizer, eggshells, shell meals, calcium sprays and ammonia-based fertilizers. Therefore in this article, we will exhaust these sources with the aim of choosing which one is a good source of calcium from the explanations to be given in this article. Starting with the sources in general and then explaining the best chosen in detail.
A Quick Overview Of Sources of Calcium for tomato plants
It can be in granular or powdered form, if it’s in this form it is calcium sulfate which is a natural Calcium Source. This compound is easily absorbed by plants and it usually dissolves slowly. It also does not affect to the acidity of the soil. It can be purchased from home-improvement centres and gardening centres. For maximum efficiency, apply the compound near the tomato plants. After that, water the area in a good manner as this helps to promote the absorption of the gypsum into the soil.
2. Natural Calcium Sources
These include shell meal and crushed eggshells, that is marine animals ground shells. These(shell meals) can be purchased from garden stores or nurseries. Then you mix the shell meal directly to the soil with a depth of about 6 or 7 inches that is when you are about to plant your tomatoes. You can also do the same for crushed egg shells. Egg shells or the shell meal can also be added to the soil that is surrounding your tomato plants usually after planting the tomato plants to help in making sure that a good calcium level is maintained and stable during the season of growing the tomato plants.
3. Powdered lime
This is also known as calcium carbonate. It’s application into the soil is another way of increasing the calcium concentration in the soil. It also helps to make the soil less acidic and most people usually use it for this purpose. That is why to always check your the pH of the soil before applying the lime because in the case that the pH of the soil is already correct, this can also lead to other problems. You can buy powdered lime from nurseries and gardening centres. The autumn season is the best time to apply powdered lime to the soil as it prepares the soil for spring planting. Make sure the lime is spread evenly over the soil and it is mixed in the soil 6-7 inches deep.
4. Calcium Spray
This method involves spraying the leaves of the tomato plants with calcium nitrate, calcium nitrite or calcium chloride. This is more technical but a less effective way of making sure the roots get the calcium. A solution is made through applying 4 level tablespoons of the preferred chemical and mixed in water usually 1 gallon. Many commercial foliar sprays already come with calcium.
Hence one can make a combination of the foliar sprays with the calcium for other purposes. In the case that you are using the calcium mix only, you are supposed to spray it on the tomato plants two or three times per week usually after flowers blooms of the second set. This requires to be done frequently for maximum efficiency. Foliar sprays usually go through poor absorption in the soil and rarely reach the fruit, a place that it should reach.
Water is also another source of calcium for tomato plants. Every week, tomato plants should be supplied with at least one inch of water for great growth of the tomatoes and that the tomatoes should contain enough calcium. This can be done from natural means such as rain or irrigation. Remember that tomato plants need to be watered thoroughly and frequently, as shallow watering negatively affects the growth process.
6. Fertilizer use
Making the fertilizer be in a soluble form and then applying it into the soil can surely be a good source of calcium for the tomato plants. Many common fertilizers are naturally rich in calcium such as bat guano and soft rock phosphate. Fertilizers made special for tomato plants containing the calcium are applied to the soil usually by tilling it. Never disturb the tomato plants roots. Make sure to do it one time and apply a half cup of 8-8-8 fertilizer of chemical granular form.
7. Ammonia-based fertilizers
Having in mind that fertilizers containing ammonia can negatively affect and be harmful to the soil, this has to be done carefully. It frequently absorbs calcium from the soil. Hence to maintain an optimum level in terms of the calcium for tomatoes, it has to be mentioned that the soil that surrounds the plants should therefore be moist.
Having reached this stage, looking at the explanations, one can surely conclude that gypsum is a very good source of calcium for tomato plants. Apart from that, it also provides other things to the tomato plants that makes it perfect for tomato growth. Let’s now look at gypsum in general.
Gypsum has been used by farmers for 150 years now and it has proven successful in tomato growth. Gypsum is a natural soil conditioner, it is composed of calcium and sulfate. Here are some of the advantages of gypsum for tomato plants growth and even other plants.
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1. Gypsum is a great source of calcium
Having reached this, we surely know that calcium is a very important nutrient for plant growth and development, especially for the shoots and roots. In addition to that, it is a balancing element as it improves the ability of the plants in terms of taking in other essential nutrients. Constant supply of soluble calcium is needed for plant growth as it can not move from old plant to new plant. Tomato Plants lacking enough calcium face blossom end rot.
Other plants lacking enough calcium also show symptoms like: premature shedding of blossoms and buds, weak stems, dead root tips and buds and abnormal dark green leaves. Calcium deficiency in most regions is as a result of acidic soil levels and high levels of rainfall.
Gypsum that is composed of 21% calcium and 17% sulfate, is usually the best source of calcium for tomato plants and any other plant lacking enough calcium. Many gardeners rely on limestone as a source of calcium but limestone is not that effective as it is not water soluble and usually works best when it meets soil acids first before the plant roots get the calcium ions. Gypsum requires a few conditions to work better, like good moisture. Gypsum does not affect the soil pH.
2. Gypsum aids in breaking up compacted soil
When the soil is tightly packed, it can be difficult for water and many other essential nutrients like calcium to penetrate into the soil where they can reach the plant roots. Clay soils is the most common type of soil preferred for tomato growth. Gypsum helps in loosening up these clay soils and the soil structure is improved as the gypsum transforms the tightly packed particles into large clumps which in turn become porous. This allows water, air and essential nutrients to penetrate into the soil easily. Roots also flourish in such porous soil leading to great plant growth.
3. Gypsum repairs damage caused by salt
Salt can cause damage to grass and plants when left long in the garden. The solution is to as quickly as possible remove salt from the affected areas. Plants absorb salt through their roots and when the salt is in excess in can cause the problem of dehydration since salt attracts water, depriving the plant roots the right to get enough water needed.
Salt also contains chloride which interferes with chlorophyll production, a very important compound involved in the process of photosynthesis, which helps plants make their own food through sunlight.
Interfering with the production of chlorophyll can cause the growth of the plants to be stunted or reduces the ability of the plants to produce flowers and leaves. Ever seen trees, grasses or plants looking brown and discolored?
This is a sign that they are affected by excess salt. If gypsum is applied to the affected area it can help put away the damage caused. The combination of calcium sulfate replaces the salt in excess, putting the plant back to life ensuring great growth.
4. Gypsum provides essential sulfur
Sulfur is important in plants as it is needed for protein production. Sulfur also helps to nodule formation on legume roots and also plays a part in that smell or garlic and onions. The deficiency of sulfur is becoming common these days hence the need for sulfur supplements. Adding gypsum to your garden helps the plants get enough sulfur. The sulfate found in gypsum is already prepared for absorption by the tomato plants immediately.