I am testing tomatoes this season to find determinate (non-vining, think bushy) varieties that might do well in containers. From the original planting of the seeds, to the tiny sprouts, and on to healthy plants with their thick stems I have hope that garden-fresh tomatoes will adorn the table before the end of June. The plants have a plethora of blossoms with dozens of green tomatoes. The largest tomato began to turn early this week with rosy hues replacing the green. Alas, when I examined the fruit closely, I discovered the entire bottom of the tomato suffered from blossom end rot (BER).
Blossom end rot, a discoloration and unsoundness in the blossom end of the tomato, is a common malady that can be triggered by many parameters including:
- The tomato variety may simply be susceptible to BER.
- Rapid early season growth with sufficient rain followed by an extended spell of dry weather.
- A lack of calcium available to the developing fruit.
- Irregular watering.
It is too early to tell if the three varieties of tomato I’ve planted are susceptible to BER. As I searched for solutions I discovered that BER usually affects the early fruit then fades as an issue as the season progresses. I also learned that garden suppliers have an arsenal of fixes for this disease, some inexpensive and some quite pricey. I garden on a budget so I mixed a couple of handfuls of pelletized lime with water in a five gallon bucket and stirred to make a thick liquid which I then added to the containers (or to the soil for those tomatoes in the garden). We will see if this fix works or if I need to try another.
By the way, the age-old garden advice to toss a spoonful of Epsom salts at the base of the tomato may actually worsen the spread of blossom end rot since the product does not contain the needed calcium.
Blossom end rot brings disappointment to the gardener who has invested so much time toward a harvest. I could not help think of our heavenly Father and the investment He has made in each of us as believers in Jesus Christ. We must understand that God expects a harvest, and He looks for our lives to produce fruit.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1-2 NASB
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. John 15:16 NASB
What must it be like for God to examine an up and coming believer, one who gives every indication of fruitfulness only to find…rot? Let me stop and give thanks that God offers second chances, even third chances. I know how to talk the talk and even fake the walk of a true believer, but God’s Holy Spirit gently reveals my shortcomings. I cannot fool God. He sees all the nooks and crannies of my heart, my thoughts, and my life.
Can rottenness be curtailed? For the tomato I removed from the vine, with its BER, probably not. I read web advice from (desperate?) gardeners who suggest, “Cut out the blossom rot and eat the rest of the tomato.” Not sure I am ready for that.
In my walk with Christ, rottenness can certainly be cured though God may need to use His pruning shears to cut away the bad stuff (see John 15:1-2 above). And then I need a determined effort to take in the necessary nutrients to maximize fruit production. That may include less TV coupled with a reduction in social media consumption. I may need to increase Scripture reading, adopt a memorization plan, and devour good books that encourage my faith.
The last thing I want to be is tossed out as “too rotten to use”.